Four Extraordinary Women: Yaffa London-Yaari Award

19 May 2014

In 2003, the Yaari Family established a fund in the name of their late mother, Yaffa London Yaari, one of the founders and leaders of the social services system in the early days of the State. During her life, she embodied a pioneering spirit, a culture of giving to the community, social solidarity and the advancement of women as equal citizens.

Over the years, the women who have won the Yaffa London Yaari Prize have come from diverse backgrounds – Jews, Arabs and Bedouin, Ashkenazi and Mizrahi, veteran Israelis and new immigrants, secular, traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox – all from the social and geographic periphery of Israel. The prize has allowed the winners to develop innovative projects for women.

Meet this year’s winners:

Naima Alzbede

[image - Naima Alzbede]
Naima Alzbede

“You need to give the girls motivation, so that they’ll know they can keep studying. In the traditional Bedouin sector, it doesn’t go without saying that girls should complete volunteer community service. It’s not very acceptable.”

Naima Alzbede (23) from Ar’ara in the Negev, won the award this year (2014). Naima works for the promotion of volunteerism for Bedouin girls in the south. She was given the award for her work in Bogrot, an organization in partnership with Appleseeds Academy, which works towards narrowing social gaps by increasing accessibility to information and technology. Bogrot recruits volunteers for community service and continues to guide the young women after they complete their volunteering. The organization provides workshops to develop self-image, training and guidance, with the goal of encouraging the women towards financial and emotional independence. Naima says that after she finished high school, she was left with no framework and felt hopeless regarding her future. She understood that she must take her fate in her own hands and volunteer within the community. Following her personal experience, Naima continues to recruit girls with a similar background to complete volunteer community service. She is proud to say that most of the girls she recruited move on to academic studies. Naima is currently studying for a degree in education and philosophy at Sapir College.

Fainy Sukenik

[image - Fainy Sukenik]
Fainy Sukenik

“Aside from the usual difficulties of divorce, for ultra-Orthodox women it’s twice as hard. The religious society doesn’t accept them and makes their lives difficult; mostly, they feel very alone.”

Fainy Sukenik (31), from Haifa, is an educational counselor and is the founder of Ba’Asher Telchi (Wherever You Go), an organization helping Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women cope with divorce. The organization gives legal advice, information regarding women’s rights, support group meetings and psychological consultations, and operates a support hotline with lawyers and professionals available for help at all hours. With the prize money she won this year (2014), Fainy intends to establish additional support groups. Fainy founded the organization following her own divorce procedure, which was full of great difficulties and loneliness. She hopes that, thanks to the organization, these women will feel that they are still part of the community, with mutual responsibilities and commitments.

Hadas Gur

[image - Hadas Gur]
Hadas Gur

“I’ve been volunteering for a year now with refugee children at the organization, Elifelet. From my intensive involvement in their lives, I understood that the children are missing a place where they can get personal attention and help with their homework. These are children who get no individual attention in their lives.”

Hadas Gur (43) from Tel Aviv won the award this year (2014) for her work in Elifelet, an organization that helps hundreds of refugee babies and children in Israel. The prize money will help Hadas realize her dream to rent a space in Tel Aviv for enrichment activities for the children. In this space, the children will receive individual attention from volunteers, English classes and arts and crafts. Hadas works at the Enosh organization as a rehabilitation counselor in sheltered housing, and volunteers at the ELEM organization in its Awake at Night project, helping youth involved in prostitution. Up until two years ago, Hadas was a singer and voice teacher; today she devotes herself completely to the refugee children.

The award was given in honor of the late Yossi Yaari, Yaffa London-Yaari’s son, who passed away this year. Yossi was very close to the work of Hadas and her friends, and did all that he could to help them.

Oshra Yosef Friedman

[image - Oshra Yosef Friedman]
Oshra Yosef Friedman

“The initiative derives from my place as someone who knows how hard it is to find work these days. I see educated women, single mothers, that don’t manage to integrate in the job market. That’s why we have to help them.”

Oshra Yosef Friedman (37) won the award this year (2014) for helping single mothers realize their employment potential. Oshra helps the women gain independence and financial responsibility by making connections with employment organizations (such as the Manufacturers Association) in order to hire them. With the prize money, Oshra hopes to organize workshops to prepare and train women for the job market. She works for the Rashi Foundation, which helps underprivileged populations in Israel obtain a higher education.