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“Against All Odds” Draws Large Television Audiences

Documentary series tells the story of social change activists

26 January 2006

An innovative Israeli documentary series initiated and co-produced by the New Israel Fund (NIF) is taking viewers behind the headlines and into the personal world of Israelis who are leading the nation’s social justice movement.

“Against All Odds,” which airs on Channel Two franchisee Keshet Wednesday nights, is drawing large audiences to its stories of the men and women who, with assistance from the NIF, are fighting for human rights, religious pluralism, economic equity and the integration of immigrants and minorities into the power structure.

At a time when domestic issues are as significant as security concerns in Israel’s upcoming elections, “Against All Odds” bring a fascinating look at people whose personal journeys embody some of Israel’s most difficult and timely conflicts. Interviews that are both remarkably candid and touchingly compassionate make for a riveting half-hour.

The first two installments explored two aspects of religious pluralism. The first introduced viewers to Chana Kohat, a leader of Israel ‘s Orthodox feminist movement. The mother of six, the beloved daughter of an esteemed ultra-Orthodox rabbi, and the founder of Kolech, the Religious Women’s Forum, Kohat is challenging the religious establishment to address the needs of agunot (women who cannot obtain a religious divorce) and victims of abuse and sexual harassment within the framework of halachah [Jewish religious law]. Kohat is building her revolution with quiet grace, determination and strength. Her episode can be viewed online in Hebrew with English subtitles at

The second installment profiles Asaf Philip, 30, an ultra-Orthodox Jew who, five years ago, left his family, community and the only world he had known for a life in the secular world. Philip says that leaving the ultra-Orthodox world brought him to “a place where everything is unknown, a place I knew nothing about.” He sought help from NIF grantee Hillel: Association for Jews Leaving Ultra-Orthodoxy and today, as its chair, Philip is helping other ultra-Orthodox Israelis make their own successful lives in the outside world. This installment, also in Hebrew with English subtitles, is online at

The third program in the series, which airs today in Israel and will be available through the NIF website with English subtitles next week, features Mandy Leighton, a member of the executive committee of veteran NIF grantee Bizchut: Center for Human Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

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