Olamot is a multifaceted service for young girls at risk in Jerusalem. The service dates back over fifteen years, when one Jerusalem family, the Finkels, first started hearing of cases of young women from the religious community who had no place to call home. The family began by opening their home to these girls; but, over the next few years, it became clear that these were not isolated cases; and in time, the family found itself mobilizing a network of households from across the community to open their homes as well.
By 2005, when Olamot was formally founded, a treatment staff was already in place to provide therapy and assistance to a dozen young women each year. “Olamot – Housing and Support for Young Girls At Risk” (Israeli Amuta, no. 580464188) began as a treatment facility, to which we soon added our high school. The former is now one of its growing network of dormitories for young women at risk from the religious community.
Young women at risk are a diverse population. In the religious community, they may be young women who are simply unable to secure longstanding living arrangements. But they may also be young women whose parents do not feel they can control their behaviors, or, sometimes, young girls from highly dysfunctional homes. Whatever their story, they will require professional intervention and assistance if they are to ensure some level of stability for their lives, and stay on the right path.
To be a home in every sense of the word. A positive home environment (as opposed to a formal dormitory or rehabilitative service) is many things: a place where basic needs are met; a place where young people receive guidance and direction; a place of warmth, where they feel loved and supported. As a service that aspires to give our girls all that they need, we must continually strive to be all these things to those who need us.
To be as dynamic as the needs we encounter. Every girl is different, and needs in the field are constantly changing. ‘One-size-fits-all’ solutions will often miss the mark. It is our duty to be responsive to new needs and new target groups, and to be continually developing and improving our program accordingly.
To be comprehensive in our assistance. For a girl from a broken home or abusive background, life, even daily functioning, is put on hold. From the basic crisis of where to live, to emotional distress and a lack of direction, to the problems of continuing to perform in school, girls in crisis need a wide range of interventions and solutions. It is fundamental that we are comprehensive in the assistance we give: that no area of life is neglected, and that each girl who leaves our facility does so with the full range of tools she will need to continue on in life.
To not discriminate. Though we are a service with clear mandates and professional expertise in the religious community in Israel, it is important that we work to be as broad as possible in assisting as many women as we can under this rubric without compromising the core competencies of our service. Our frameworks must continue to be open to young religious women from a wide variety of backgrounds and religious levels, including women from around the world seeking to build a life here in Israel.
To secure a home within the wider community. We recognize that a home extends beyond four walls, and that ultimately, each girl who comes through our doors will have to live in a wider social horizon. It is our mission to ensure that each young woman who seeks our support is assisted in making a home for herself in this wider community: to develop extended networks of friends and families from across the religious community; to develop the skills and abilities that she will need to build a life for herself; and to reconnect, spiritually and communally, to her religious identity.
To keep the focus on the future. No matter what each girl has gone through in the past, it is only the future that we can impact. Though we must help those girls who come to us to constructively deal with the difficulties that brought them to us, in the end the most meaningful gift we can give them is that of a brighter and promising future.
Our Vision is to ensure a stable environment that will ensure these women are able to effectively move on.
Olamot’s operational strategy is to create special frameworks for each special needs group we identify from among the wider community of young girls at risk.
The dormitory experience is meant to bring girls together as part of a bonding social experience (a home away from home – and for many, the only home they have ever known). Our treatment model recognizes that for most of these young girls, family crisis creates both emotional and behavioral problems that in turn disrupt their progress in school and the community. Our program is therefore built on four tiers: (1) guidance, education and vocational training; (2) close-mentoring by one of our program staffers and social workers; (3) ongoing group and individual therapy; and (4) contact to restore, as much as possible, family relations. We know these young women will eventually want to build healthy, productive lives in the religious community. Our program is designed to help them do this – to build up their competence, maturity and skills – on their own.
“It is thanks to your unique way of chinuch, with sensitivity, warmth and love, that you’ve built our daughter into a mature young lady. Your program was a positive and empowering experience that gave her life long tools that we will forever be indebted for. We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve given our daughter Sarah over the past four years.”
Mrs. B.T Ramat Beit Shemesh
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