EFRAT organization expands its activity in Israel.
(Courtesy of EFRAT) For over four decades, the EFRAT organization, under the leadership of the devoted Dr. Eli Schussheim z”l, has been saving Jewish babies by giving their mothers the ability to overcome their distress and make the best choices for themselves.
While in the United States the issue of pro-life and pro-choice is one of the most combustive topics, EFRAT has always remained above politics.
EFRAT does not take a moral stance but rather provides the necessary support and information in order to truly empower women so that they can make a real choice.
Recently the organization launched a new service, Growing Mothers, providing counseling, support and guidance for mothers to achieve financial independence. The service, which includes guidance and employment counseling provided by a social worker and other professionals, aims to support mothers who had been assisted by EFRAT in the past.
When discussing the risks associated with abortion, EFRAT puts all the facts on the table. There are some physical complications that may result from an abortion but the emotional fallout, in the form of regret, is all too often life-long and devastating.
Ruth Tidhar, EFRAT’s head social worker, shared the organization’s policy. “We will never try to sway women with arguments based on ideological, moral or religious grounds. Rather, our goal is to empower them through information and assistance, so that they can make the best decision for themselves. Women who come to us feel trapped into having an abortion. We show them that other options exist.”
Statistics show that the most of the abortions in Israel are performed due to financial stress, and these past two years were no exception. This financial stress is often temporary, and realizing that, EFRAT has created a much-needed assistance package. EFRAT’s assistance package addresses all of the related expenses that come with the birth of a new baby. EFRAT provides a crib, stroller, baby bath, layette, as well as 24 monthly packages with diapers and wipes, food and formula when needed.
This assistance package alleviates the temporary stress but is not yet a complete solution. EFRAT provides ongoing emotional support and practical assistance. EFRAT has recently opened a new program to help mothers return to work after the birth by providing occupational counseling and help with paying for day-care with the aim of removing our new mothers’ families from the cycle of poverty.
All of the women EFRAT has helped continue to raise their own children and many of them stay in contact with EFRAT and become advocates and volunteers, helping other women who are in the situation they once were in. Miri K. has been volunteering for over 25 years. “I started at a time when supporting women to continue their pregnancy was not a priority,” she said. “Many women were making the tortuous decision to terminate their pregnancies alone. Some of the babies who were born to the women I supported when I first started volunteering are now in the army or even have families of their own. It’s mind-boggling!” Miri explained that no two cases are alike.
EFRAT advertises as much as possible on the radio, television, billboards and buses all across Israel. EFRAT has an active presence on social media, with Hebrew and English Facebook pages, including pictures and testimonials. An emergency hotline is available around the clock for women in need, operated by skilled administrators who link them to other EFRAT teams as well as to other agencies and services as appropriate.
To date, EFRAT has directly saved some 80,312 babies although according to Nir Salomon, Efrat’s executive director, “countless more were saved indirectly from listening to our message in Israel and Jewish communities around the world.” Salomon made clear that EFRAT is committed to not only directly supporting women in Israel but also helps other organizations in Israel and around the world to speak about the cause and help empower women in their communities as well.
According to Chagai Goldschmidt Efrat’s CEO, the direct assistance to women costs the organization around 4,500 NIS or $1,500. This $1,500 often makes the difference between whether this child will be born or not. The former Chief Rabbi of Israel Harav Mordechai Eliyahu once said that EFRAT is responsible to make sure that precious souls that are meant to come into this world are not sent back.