Established in 2018 by NCJW and the NCJW Women and Gender Studies Program at Tel Aviv University, Connecting for Impact (CFI) is a groundbreaking program that works to strengthen the Israeli feminist ecosystem by nurturing peer learning, collaborative leadership, and joint action amongst feminist changemakers.
The CFI network includes CEOs of major Israeli women’s organizations and prominent feminist activists representing the full spectrum of identities within Israeli society. These women are at the forefront of the battle to safeguard women’s rights.
Our offerings to the CFI network include facilitated monthly peer-mentoring sessions in small groups and network-wide convenings to discuss and strategize together major issues facing the field.
“I’d like to express my gratitude for the session that our group had last week. It was meaningful and open and honest, it was real and strong. I will state the obvious – it is more important now than ever to be in spaces which recharge us, to be on the side that receives and rests in a safe and protected environment.” – Adi Wimmer, CEO El HaLev
Connecting For Impact Alumni
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.
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.
Michal Avera Samuel is a social leader and educational activist, advocating for the integration of Ethiopian Israelis at Fidel where she has been the Executive Director since 2011. Born in Gondar, the youngest of nine children, Michal made aliyah in 1984 as part of Operation Moses. Michal serves on Israel’s prestigious Round Table Panel on Social Issues. In 2000, Michal represented Israel at the Epcot Millennium Village pavilion in Orlando and in 2004 spoke at the International Lion of Judah conference. She also volunteers at “Isha L’Isha – Haifa Feminist Center,” supporting victims of domestic violence.
Naila Awwad is a leading Palestinian feminist activist in the fight against violence against women in Israeli society, particularly in the Arab sector. She serves as Director of the Women Against Violence Association (WAV). Her advocacy team has worked hard to obtain three legislative goals: a law regarding family courts, a law to raise the marriage age from 17 to 18, and a law to encourage women’s representation in local and city councils. Naila also focuses on stopping the killings of women, and police behavior in turning a blind eye to this violence. She has an MA from Bar Ilan in Gender Studies.
Nena Bar is a disability rights lecturer who addresses disability and cinema from a feminist perspective. One of the founders of the Israeli Center for Deaf Studies, Nena is in charge of advocacy, research, and Deaf Women’s rights. Nena led the protest of 2012 in front of the Social Welfare Ministry after a major cut in accessibility funds. From 2008-2017 she worked as the project director of Equality in Higher Education for Deaf students in Israel. She gives workshops on self-advocacy and disability rights in higher education and is an advocate for the recognition of Israeli Sign Language.
Riki Kohan Benlulu is a single mother from Ashdod living in poverty in public housing. She is a key figure in the progressive, political Mizrahi feminist grassroots movement “Lo Nechmadot” (literally, the “Not Nice”), which spearheads a range of social struggles and issues, including the problems of women who live in poverty and suffer domestic violence. Riki is a leader in the struggle for public housing through the Public Housing Forum, and a Project Coordinator in the leading feminist Mizrachi organization, “Achoti (My Sister) – For Women in Israel.” She gives media interviews, lectures and is a lobbyist.
Ella Berchansky is one of the founders of “The Liga of Russian-Speaking Feminists” movement in Israel, an activist online community. As a leader of “Liga”, Ella works to further the group’s goals of improving the economic and social status of Russian-speaking women in Israel and fighting discrimination, in cooperation with women from diverse Israeli backgrounds. Ella is a professional psychologist with extensive experience working with women and adolescents and leads group facilitation. She has a rich background working in education, and multicultural work, with special attention to women’s rights. Ella combines theory and practice in her approach.
Noga Dagan Buzaglo, an attorney, is the incoming director of the Adva Center, a non-partisan policy analysis institute examining Israeli society through a social justice lens, and with a special focus on gender equality. She specializes in education, gender, labor and labor law, and social security. She holds an MA in Sociology from the Hebrew University and an LLB from Tel Aviv University. She is an activist in the fields of education, feminism, peace and more. She was among the founders of the Kedma School in Jerusalem, and a board member of HILA for Quality Education, promoting education in low-income neighborhoods, development towns, and villages, through parents’ involvement.
Sharon Cherkasky has 20 years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector. Since 2015, she has been the Executive Director at the Israel Family Planning Association (Open Door) where she leads the non-profit to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights and sex education. Sharon previously worked at WIZO promoting legislation and policies concerning gender and women’s rights. Additionally, Sharon developed women’s leadership programs, managed campaigns to raise awareness about gender equality, established a coalition for gender equality in the IDF, created a forum for deputy directors in government ministries, and initiated a program to advance women in civil service.
Lior Elefant is the Chairwoman of the Israeli Women in Film and Television Forum; founder and manager of P.See, a feminist media initiative – an online community of over 45,000 followers; CEO of Women in the Picture Association; Director of Lethal Lesbian Film Festival; PhD candidate at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and a feminist activist in subjects of media, culture, LGBTQ and the arts. For the past decade, Lior has been involved in several feminist media initiatives, and together with her colleagues is generating actual cultural change in Israeli society.
Keren Greenblatt is Founder and CEO of Gala, an online giving platform, and Co-Founder of Layla Tov, a venture that fights sexual harassment in nightlife. Keren worked as Director of “Shutafot” Coalition of Feminist Organizations and Director of Policy at Israel Women’s Network. Keren consults for the Israel Ministry of Health and the Authority for the Advancement of Women. She holds a Law degree from Hebrew University Jerusalem and an LL.M from Georgetown University. She is a Seeds of Peace GATHER Fellow and ROI Community Member and was named in 2017’s 50 Most Influential Women in Israel by Forbes Magazine.
Nurit Haghagh, Mizrachi feminist activist, has been a leader, group facilitator, and coalition builder in the Israeli social and feminist field for more than 30 years. She is a founder of Diversity in Action, connecting the personal and the political. In the 1990s she co-founded and managed the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow, a movement for social advancement. Nurit is currently a project manager for Young Naamat and also leads women’s groups of the Histradut and Young Naamat dealing with the rights of working women. She is a board member of Itach-Maaki and active in Women Wage Peace.
Ghadir Hani is active in economic development and empowerment of women in The Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation in the Negev (AJEEC), and works at the Wadi Atir project – a sustainable desert community. Active in a number of organizations for peace and co-existence, including Women Wage Peace, she is also an initiator of interfaith dialogue in the Negev and a Fellow of the Tikkun program. She is a board member of Ma’an – Forum of Negev Arab Bedouin Women’s Organizations, focusing on the eradication of polygamy and violence against women, and volunteers and trains facilitators at a 24/7 hotline for women.
Heli Jacobs is co-founder and administrator of “Religious Women Entrepreneurs,” a Facebook community and non-profit project which caters to 11,000 religious women in Israel. She is head of business development and external affairs in the series of business meet-ups which are the non-virtual part of the Facebook group. The community aims to develop strong financial backing for women who consider themselves religious, and to create long-lasting substantial businesses and financial independence by sharing knowledge, strengthening the mutual ideals and building a platform for sustainability and, in general, creating a community where committed individuals can look out for one another.
Fida Nara is the Arab Palestinian Co-Director of Mahapach-Taghir – whose name means “change,” – a feminist grassroots Jewish-Arab organization dedicated to a shared society with equal opportunities for all. It encourages active citizenship and learning and promotes solidarity between marginalized social groups. For the last 22 years, Fida has dedicated her life to women’s empowerment and social change. Her activism started as a young woman volunteer at the Hotline for Victims of Sexual Violence. Fida worked as coordinator of the Awareness-Raising Project at “Women Against Violence” for 13 years and was the Director of its Social Change Unit. Fida received her MA in Gender Studies from Bar Ilan University.
Tamar Schwartz is Executive Director of “Ruah Nashit” (“The Female Spirit”), dedicated to helping women survivors of violence rebuild their lives through employment and financial independence. She was CEO of “Mesila”, Tel Aviv’s Special Unit for Refugees and Migrant Workers for eight years, working to change perceptions of that community while implementing new procedures on local and national levels for their benefit. Tamar has devoted herself to the neediest in society – children at risk and women victims of violence, creating kindergartens, libraries, after-school programs, educational centers, aid facilities for human trafficking victims, and more. Tamar has won awards for her unique work, including the Presidential Award for fighters of human trafficking.
Fainy Sukenik is a Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) feminist social activist. Fainy is chair and founder of Ba’asher Telchi (“Wherever You Go”), providing support for Haredi and Orthodox women going through separation and divorce. She is prominent in raising the visibility and empowerment of Haredi women. Fainy is a fellow in the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, a teacher and counselor. Fainy was one of 12 honorees lighting a torch at Israel’s Independence Day ceremony in 2016, was nominated as one of the 20 leading women activists in Israel, and was listed in the “40 people under 40” who influence Israeli society in 2018.
Anat Thon-Ashkenazy is the Executive Director of Itach-Maaki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice, a Jewish- Arab NGO working to promote the voices of diverse women in public discourse and decision- making. Anat is a senior attorney, specializing in law, gender discrimination and mainstreaming gender perspectives in policymaking, especially in peace and security issues. Anat holds an LLM and LLB with honors from Tel-Aviv University. In 2015 Anat received the ‘Nachshonit Award’ for her pioneering activities promoting gender equality in Israel. In 2011, the leading economic magazine, The Marker, selected Anat as one of the seven promising young lawyers in Israel.
Olya Weinstein is Director of Education and Outreach at Project Kesher Israel. Project Kesher empowers Russian-speaking women to be leaders and activists, building Jewish identity and influencing change on key issues. Olya is completing an M.A. from the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and will be receiving rabbinic ordination from HUC this year. She has worked as the Student Department Director and Congregational Coordinator for the Masorti movement, as Deputy Director of the Yuri Shtern Foundation, as head of the Russian-speaking department at ITIM-Navigating Religious Bureaucracy in Israel – and as associate director of Kashuvot which pioneers pastoral care in Israel. Olya created the first Russian language brochure on Freedom of Marriage.