Connecting for Impact: Strengthening the Feminist Ecosystem of Israel

Connecting For Impact is a powerful leadership development program for top CEOs and executives looking to grow the feminist field in Israel and leverage their collective power to make change. Established in 2018 by the National Council for Jewish Women and the NCJW Women and Gender Studies program at Tel Aviv University, this program serves as a direct response to research that indicates the importance of creating platforms for feminist connection and collaboration.

This second cohort of the 18-month intensive leadership fellowship offers training, coaching, and collaboration to leaders doing extraordinary work to end violence against women in Israel, across a range of sectors and populations—working to address sexual assault, domestic violence, unjust divorce laws, sexual trafficking, and more, in the secular Israeli, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox, Bedouin, Arab, and Russian communities, among others.

Fellows will create connections and develop projects that empower the feminist field in Israel in general, and work to end the phenomena of violence against women in particular. No other program works across the Israeli feminist activist space in this way. We’re thrilled to partner with the Weinberg Foundation in order to make this intensive journey possible.

Meet the 2020 Connecting For Impact Cohort

Reham Abuelassal is the Chairwoman of Na`amat: the Working and Volunteering Women Council for the Nazareth District. In 2017, she was elected as the Chairwomen of Na`amat, Nazareth district. Her work at Na`amat seeks to advance and strengthen the status of women in various areas. Reham focuses her work on women workers through community, educational, and raising awareness activities that address different issues concerning women. She also manages the Na`mat Vocational Centre.

Alia Abu Rabiah is a teacher, organizational consultant, Director of Ma’an – the Forum of Bedouin Arab Women in the Negev, and founder of Lemanchem, an NGO that works to advance and improve services for children with special needs in the Arab sector in the Negev. The Forum of Bedouin Arab Women in the Negev promotes social equality, women’s empowerment, and coexistence among the Arab Bedouin society both in the Negev and in Arab society in Israel in general.

Ela Alon is the Executive Director of Itach-Maaki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice. She is a senior attorney, with varied experience in the public sector and in NGOs. Ela’s legal areas of expertise are labor law and social security–including legal support to organizing workers– administrative law and municipal law, access to justice, corporate and cooperative law, and legal work with communities in transformation. In 2015 Ela was chosen as an outstanding worker by the Civil Service Commission.

Rafah Anabtawi is the General Director of the Kayan Feminist Organization and has been a social justice and feminist activist for over 20 years. She began her career at Kayan as the Community Organizing Coordinator in 2006 and has now been its director for over seven years. As the director of Kayan, Anabtawi spearheads a grassroots approach to social change by consolidating a national Arab feminist movement that promotes and defends women’s rights and ensures women’s integration into all aspects of the public sphere.

Maya Azaria is Head of Public Policy at the Michal Sela Forum, a non-profit organization, striving to prevent domestic violence by innovative and groundbreaking solutions. Maya has vast experience in policymaking and regulation, gained through working with governments and politicians, as well as leading complex private-public collaborations.

Liron Azulai is the CEO of the Women’s Courtyard, lives in Tel Aviv. Liron started out as a social and environmental activist while studying sociology in her twenties. Liron served as the Co-Director at Mahapach- Taghir, a feminist communal organization based in 8 marginalized (Jewish and Arab) communities. Now, 20 years later she is the CEO at the Women’s Courtyard, a feminist nationwide leading organization for young women and girls at the margins of Israel society which aims to help them break social and gender barriers in their way to build a better future for themselves.

Maya Barshishat is a feminist activist. Maya is a Co-founder of LOTEM, a non-institutional nationwide platform for organizing feminist NVDA (Non-Violent Direct Action) and civil disobedience. Furthermore, Maya is one of the organizers of Slutwalk Jerusalem. Maya is 24 years old, and she is a law and social work student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Naama Goldberg is a feminist activist. Naama is a researcher of the psychology of prostitution. She is the founder and CEO of Lo Omdot Me’negged: Assisting Women in the Cycle of Prostitution. Naama formerly served as school principal at HaBait shel Tamar, she is a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute, and a lecturer at the Kibbutzim Seminar where she teaches courses on gender, youth at risk, and more.

Debbie Gross is the founder and director of Tahel: Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children, which services women and children throughout Israel. Debbie has developed an educational workshop program to give children and teenagers the skills to recognize and prevent sexual abuse and domestic violence. She is an expert in training courses and workshops for rabbis and other religious leaders on how to intervene in cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse. She travels around the world developing programs to help communities prevent abuse.

Zameret Hershko is a peace and anti-Israeli occupation activist and took an active part in the women in black protests for 10 years. Zameret has devoted herself to working with women in feminist organizations. For 15 years, Zameret has worked at the sexual assault crisis centers, in Haifa and Tel Aviv as the director of volunteers. Since 2016 Zameret has been working as the coordinator of general affairs at women to women – Haifa feminist center. Additionally, Zameret has been working since 2020 at the wisdom of women center for counseling and psychotherapy, focusing her work on prostitution survivors.

Zilit Jakobsohn is a long-time social activist and current Chairperson of Bat Melech, an organization that operates shelters and provides mental and legal help for female victims of domestic violence in the ultra-Orthodox community. She joined Bat Melech’s Legal Department in 2013, providing advice and legal representation to victims in the shelters. In 2015, she joined the Board of Directors and was elected Chairperson, a role she passionately fulfills. She is an outspoken and effective representative for female victims of family violence from traditional and closed communities.

Orit Lahav is the Executive Director of Mavoi Satum. Orit is a lawyer and an expert in legislation, politics, and public policy, and the intersection of religion and state. She is responsible for the overall functioning of the organization and all advocacy activities including work with Knesset members, drafting proposed legislation, and serving as a spokesperson in the media. For two years, Orit worked as a parliamentary assistant to MK Aliza Lavie, a former member of Yesh Atid.

Rivka Nuyman is the Director of the Department for Women’s Rights in Israel and the legal departments of WIZO Israel. She manages 30 legal departments and established and currently runs 20 mediation centers. Rivka also manages government ties and legislation. She develops prevention plans; manages the WIZO’s Men’s Help Line; conducts
research studies; manages ambulatory centers and shelters for battered women. Rivka also develops leadership in women through programs like Seder Chevrati Chadash (“New Social Order”), the IDF’s Technological Horizon program.

Samah Salaime is the Director of the Wahat al-Salam Neve Shalom Communication and Development Department, a social worker, community activist, and feminist. She is the founder and director of AWC: Arab Women in the Center, an NGO which seeks to promote the status of women in the cities of Ramla, Lod, and Jaffa, and to combat gender-based violence against women, particularly in Arab societies. Samah was chosen twice as Yediot Achronot, one of the 10 most influential social activists in Israel by the Israeli National Newspaper. She has served as WASNS Director of the Educational Institutions.

Naomi Schneiderman serves as Executive Director of Woman to Woman, a nonprofit that runs the Jerusalem Shelter for Battered Women. Naomi joined the organization
in 2007 as its Director of Development before becoming Executive Director in 2013. In 2005, was an award-winning fellow at Hebrew University’s Lafer Center for Gender Studies and in 2012, was selected for the International Ford Motor-Company Fellowship at the 92nd Street Y in New York.

Yael Sherer is a social activist, documentary director, and author. She is the Director of the Lobby for the War on Sexual Violence, a civilian lobbying organization that works directly with the Knesset to create legislative and policy change. Yael directs the “Street of Her Own” project that works to commemorate women in the public space. She is CEO and co-founder of One in One. Yael is a winner of the Knesset Prize for Women Changing the World.

Ronit Shoval, MSW, is the CEO of the Eden Association. She specializes in complex PTSD treatment and has been treating girls and women for the past 20 years,
both in treatment centers and in her private practice. Ronit has developed and implemented Eden’s model for dialectical-feminist work with girls in residential care. She formerly held the position of manager of the Beer-Sheva branch of the National Anti-Drug Association in Israel.

Orit Sulitzeanu is the Executive Director of The Association of Rape Crisis Centers (ARCCI), the leading NGO in Israel working on combating sexual violence. Before joining the ARCCI in 2013, she served as Head of Communications at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she also chaired the Gender Equality Committee. She was the Spokesperson for the Israel Women’s` Network (IWN), Israel’s leading women advocacy group. She appears extensively at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Rita Volosin is an admin in the “Russian Women Without Sense of Humour and Their Friends” Facebook community, created to voice the stories of Russian-speaking women in Israel and oppose the biased representation of the community in mainstream media. A feminist activist in the struggle for women’s and human rights as well as the promotion of causes unique to the Russian-speaking community in Israel, Rita is the editor and translator for “The Readeress” (Politically Correct), a feminist media outlet.

Adi Wimmer is a creative and inspirational leader, spearheading violence prevention in Israel through her work as CEO of El HaLev, an Israeli NGO that strives to prevent sexual, emotional, and physical violence through innovative educational programs that provide tools for personal safety. Adi has dedicated her life to the mitigation and prevention of violence against women, youth, and children. At El HaLev, Adi brings her passion for building bridges between sectors, organizations, and people, into leading many of Israel’s most innovative joint ventures in the field of violence prevention.

Previous Cohort (2019)

In 2019, more than 90 people applied to be part of the first cohort of the program. Seventeen extraordinary and diverse Israeli feminist leaders of organizations and online communities were chosen. In partnership with TAU, NCJW provided opportunities for these diverse feminist leaders to strengthen relationships, enhance skills, expand networking, and to engage in collaborative work. In doing so, we leveraged this collective feminist power for a greater impact on Israeli society —improving the lives of women, girls, and families across Israel.

Learn more about the 2019 cohort