War in israel

Photo courtesy of HF grantee Itach Ma’aki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice

Our Response So Far

The devastation, loss, and trauma that the October 7th attacks caused in Israel and among Jewish people around the world has undoubtedly impacted every aspect of our work. In response, our ongoing actions and grantmaking aim to: address the immediate, pressing needs of women and children in Israel; call-out the US-based and international entities that have failed to uphold their missions of protecting all women; and ensure that women are adequately represented in Israel’s decision-making regarding the war and its aftermath.

 

Grantmaking

Since Oct. 7, the Hadassah Foundation has made several emergency grants:

  • $36,000 to Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) to support the trauma care at its hospitals
  • $10,000 to Jewish Federations of North America’s Israel Crisis Fund;
  • $20,000 in discretionary grants to Itach Ma’aki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice, Israel Women’s Network, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, and Beit Ruth Therapeutic Village.

Advocacy

  • In January, the Hadassah Foundation joined HWZOA, National Council of Jewish Women, and Jewish Women International (a Hadassah Foundation grant recipient) and 55 other concerned organizations in a letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanding the UN conduct an independent, complete, unbiased investigation into the reports and documented evidence of Hamas’ rape, mutilation, gender-based violence and murder of Israeli women and girls, and pursue vigorous prosecution to hold Hamas terrorists accountable. The coalition also called for the UN to demand that Hamas release the hostages it continues to hold, including women and girls, especially in light of evidence showing continued torture and abuse. Learn more here
  • Immediately following the Oct. 7th attacks, Hadassah Foundation, jointly with Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA) issued a response to the statements made by the UN Secretary General and by UN Women that failed to:
    • address the severity of the gender-based crimes committed,
    • recognize or aim to protect those who were abducted as innocent hostages, and
    • condemn the brutal attack committee by Hamas.
  • Hadassah Foundation was one of over 140 organizations to sign-on to a Call for Urgent Action – Response of Women’s Rights Organizations to UN Women’s Statement on Oct. 7.

Programming

On December 19th, the Hadassah Foundation, along with 21 co-sponsoring organizations, hosted a webinar on the War’s Impact on Women in Israel.

Find follow-up resources from the speakers and cosponsors here. Learn about the speakers, including representatives of Hadassah Foundation grantee organizations Israel Women’s Network and Itach Ma’aki on our events page.

building the field

  • Starting in 2024, we are bringing together Jewish women’s funds throughout the United States to make new resources available for Israeli women’s needs.
  • We are working with larger funders to make women a priority in their Israel emergency allocations by providing them with up-to-date information about the needs of women in Israel and available resources.
  • The vital and impressive work of the organizations we support is being amplified by the Hadassah Foundation through numerous methods. Below, are a few stories that demonstrate the impact of our grantee organizations.

A Few Responses from Our Grantee Organizations

Throughout the month of December, we shared stories of some of the initiatives we support that exemplify the modern-day strength and resiliency of the Jewish people and people of Israel. We will continue to update this section with new stories about how our grantees have responded to the crisis in Israel. Read past updates here.

Forum Dvorah

Forum Dvorah is the only organization in Israel focusing on gender equality in the fields of national security and foreign policy. It manages an Israel-based network of over 200 women in key decision-making positions in security and foreign policy, as well as a separate network for an emerging generation of women in these fields.

Since October 7, Forum Dvorah has been working behind the scenes to increase the number of women involved in key decision-making discussions regarding the war, including hostage negotiations, which had no women present until Forum Dvorah intervened. It is also documenting the experiences of women during the war and the numerous successes of women in the military, particularly in combat positions.

Read our Q&A with Forum Dvorah leadership.

 

JWI spurred hundreds of US-based organizations, communal leaders, and elected officials to speak out and show their unequivocal support for Israel.

Jewish Women International

In the United States, Jewish Women International empowers women and girls of all backgrounds to live free from violence, be financially independent, and excel in leadership positions. This year, among JWI’s many accomplishments, it led an amicus brief to the Supreme Court to keep firearms out of the hands of violent abusers and held monthly training webinars led by the country’s top experts on domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and response.

In learning about the the inaction and silence of UN Women and international women’s organizations after the gender-based war crimes were committed by Hamas on October 7th, JWI quickly made supporting Israel among its top advocacy priorities. Bringing its strategic and strong advocacy to international levels, JWI spurred hundreds of US-based organizations, communal leaders, and elected officials to speak out and show their unequivocal support for Israel.

Itach Ma’aki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice

Focused on Israel’s most marginalized women – including Bedouin women and those living in poverty and in the geographic periphery – Itach Ma’aki advances women’s legal rights, builds gender and social equality within municipalities, and increases the influence of women throughout Israel. Since October 7, Itach Ma’aki has established a Jewish-Arab partnership in the South that coordinates operations of 16 emergency aid centers providing food and other necessary items, as well as psychological and legal support, to thousands of families, many led by single mothers.

 

November 27 protest organized by grantee organizations Israel Women’s Network (IWN) and the Association for Rape Crisis Centers in Israel outside the United Nations’ Jerusalem offices. (Courtesy IWN and ARCCI)

Israel Women’s Network

A longtime grant recipient of the Hadassah Foundation, Israel Women’s Network (IWN) aims to eradicate gender-based violence, promote gender equality in the workplace, and raise the socio-economic status of women in Israel.

After October 7, IWN expanded its legal-aid hotline, which is providing multilingual and multicultural guidance – including information on their rights and how to access government resources – to thousands of women throughout Israel who have lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of the war. IWN also helped mobilize hundreds of Israeli women’s organizations to create a strong, unified voice calling on international bodies to acknowledge and condemn the gender-based violence Hamas committed on October 7.

ASLI Israel White Ribbon protest

Member of ASLI: Israel White Ribbon. His placard reads “Men say no to violence against women!” (Courtesy ASLI)

ASLI Israel white ribbon 

Founded in 2021, ASLI: Israel White Ribbon Organization engages men and boys in the effort to eliminate violence against women. It does this through a combination of in-person and online programs, as well as widely viewed video and social media campaigns. Days after October 7, it began hosting facilitated Zoom gatherings where men can talk about their feelings, alleviate fears and concerns, and acknowledge the pressure men usually face to “keep it together.” These programs, engaging dozens of men, aim not just to support men, but, by providing a healthy venue for releasing stress, to prevent that stress from leading to violence. “We believe that violence towards women is not just a women’s issue and that men have a central role in the effort to prevent it,” says ASLI Executive Director Aran Rondel.

Participants in Moving Traditions’ Meyer-Gottesman Kol Koleinu Teen Feminist Fellowship (Courtesy Moving Traditions)

Moving Traditions

Moving Traditions uses a gender lens to embolden North American Jewish youth to thrive. Combining positive psychology with Jewish values, it partners with Jewish institutions across North America to engage Jewish teens, families, and communities. Since October 7, many Jewish teens have been struggling to make sense of the graphic images from Israel and Gaza and the polarizing, often antisemitic, rhetoric about the war. In response, Moving Traditions has offered a variety of resources for teens and their parents, including a discussion guide that more than 200 educators used to help teens process the crisis in Israel. It also hosted widely attended parent webinar on how to talk with teens about Israel and developed resources on planning for college at a time of growing concerns about campus antisemitism.

Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel

An umbrella organization, the Association for Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI ) strives to create systemic, social change for survivors of sexual violence. In the aftermath of Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7, ARCCI trained social workers and clinicians on the specific needs of those who experience wartime sexual abuse and related traumas. It also launched a national media campaign to raise awareness of the centers’ services and encourage survivors, including those who have been re-traumatized by recent events, to seek help. ARCCI Executive Director Orit Sulitzeanu has been a leading voice calling on international women’s organizations to condemn and investigate Hamas’ gender-based war crimes.

“The very essence of gender equality and women empowerment groups worldwide is to assist victims of such atrocities…How could anyone stay silent when faced with such horrific acts?”

Orit Sulitzeanu, in The Times of Israel

Women’s Spirit CEO Tamar Schwartz with Knesset Member Naama Lazimi at a recent hearing on gender-based violence. (Courtesy Women’s Spirit)

Women’s Spirit

Women’s Spirit helps women survivors of abuse develop economic independence and break the cycle of violence. Since October 7, the women it serves, many of them single mothers in the South who have been forced to evacuate, have been reliving long-term trauma and are facing significant financial hardship. The need to be there for them is particularly acute because in times of uncertainty and material insecurity, women are more likely to return to violent relationships from which they fled. In addition to providing its usual counseling and support groups, the organization is training more volunteer mentors, helping women access government benefits and other material assistance, and preparing to address the surge of domestic violence cases that the crisis and war are expected to fuel.