The Woman Bringing Homeless Off-the-Derech Girls Back Home
For the past decade, my dear neighbor Rena Rosenblum has been the house mother and director of Aishel (otherwise known as “Rena’s Place”), a unique therapeutic hostel for homeless, off-the-derech girls.
For your Matanot L’Evyonim this year, I hope you will consider making a donation to brighten up the Purim seuda of the girls at Aishel
Aishel’s website explains Aishel’s important mission: “Every night young Jewish girls from a variety of backgrounds roam the streets of Jerusalem, wondering where they can safely spend the night.
“Estranged from family, they soon find themselves penniless, struggling with homelessness, drugs, alcohol, and worse. Vulnerable and alone, they easily fall prey to anyone showing an interest in them and are frequently the victims of physical and sexual abuse. Until recently there have been few other options available to these girls.
“Founded in 2004 and run by a dedicated team of professionals under the auspices of rabbis, Aishel offers girls ages 14-22 a safe, clean place to sleep, three nourishing meals a day and other basic items, psychological counseling, and help to receive vocational training. The girls are helped to confront the issues that led to their present situation, and are gently and lovingly aided to turn their lives around, become productive members of society, reconcile with their families and return to religious observance.”
Read the incredible stories of two girls whose lives were turned around by their time at Aishel…
Sara* was 9 when her mother finally left the house- for good. She abandoned Sara’s father and 7 children after years of emotionally abusing all of them, and took off with another man. Since Sara’s family was a well-known, respected one, the father and children felt they had to put up a front that they were OK. But they weren’t. Sara spent the next 8 years neglected, suffering, and bearing the brunt of the anger of her father, who cracked under the pressure of raising 7 children on his own. By the time she came to Aishel at age 17, she was an aggressive, attention-starved teenager who was full of rage and cursed and hurled venom at everyone around her. She had dropped out of school and focused her energies on looking like a fashion model in order to get the compliments she craved. She spent 2 years at Aishel, first soaking up the warmth and love and learning to trust others for the first time in her life…And then opening up and undergoing intense psychotherapy which enabled her to understand and heal herself and her relationships with others. She began working, started accounting school, and finally got engaged to a wonderful boy, to whom she is today married. Her family and her adopted family at Aishel all participated in her simcha, and continue to support her till today.
Gitty* was the only healthy child among the 4 siblings in her family. Thus, while her mother was busy taking the other children for costly treatments and check-ups, Gitty remained neglected emotionally and materially– lacking basic toys and even clothing. In addition, several times while her mother was out, she was molested by her father. Gitty started acting out in school with behavior problems- stealing, lying, trouble making, hanging out with boys, and was berated by her parents and teachers. When she went to Israel for seminary, she vowed never to go back home, and when the year was over, she found random empty apartments to stay in, sometimes inhabited by guys who were “overly friendly”… When she came to Aishel, Gitty continued with her provocative behavior and was shocked to receive very different reactions than she was accustomed to. For the first time in her life, she confronted her issues with loving support, and began acquiring tools or personal change. Over the course of 2 years atAishel she did a 180 degree turnaround, and is now a mature, inspiring figure, lending a hand to the younger girls at Aishel. She is registered to start college in October and has been working and supporting herself for over a year.
This year’s other JewishMOM.com recommendation for Matanot l’Evyonim: Click here to read about S., a single-mother with four children who is struggling to feed her family following the recent divorce from her abusive husband