My first time at Camp was the most memorable summer of my life. A large part of my national and political identity was introduced to me that summer, and the following years of Seeds of Peace meetings, activities, and summers at Camp enabled and encouraged me to develop these aspects of my identity.
Thanks to Seeds of Peace, I became aware of what it means to be a Jewish Israeli woman, and the benefits, challenges, advantages, and disadvantages that come with that identity. The encounters and close relationships with Palestinians, along with the awareness of who I am in the context of the Middle East conflict, instilled in me a sense of responsibility over the events that take place in Israel and the actions of the society of which I am a part.
How have you impacted your community?
I work to create social and political change inside Israeli society. I believe I have the power to influence only the society I live in—and have much less power outside of it—and that any progress made inside it contributes to ending the conflict and reaching a peaceful solution for Israelis and Palestinians.
I am a programs director at the Joint Distribution Committee Israel focused on programs addressing debts and debt relief.
In my professional work, I use two main tools, education and legal work, to fight against prejudice, discrimination and racism; to protect human rights; and to allow access to justice for disadvantaged groups in society. I have learned that long-term commitment is necessary to impacting the legal, financial, and social spheres crucial to achieving real social change and lasting peace. There is no short or easy way.
During the GATHER Fellowship, I hope to find global resources and partners for creating new and creative solutions to alleviating the cycle of poverty by developing and directing a new innovative program aimed at financial rehabilitation of debtors who are locked in the debt cycle, using the power and opportunity that legal proceedings provide.
I hold an LLB from Tel Aviv University Law School and I am a graduate student in the Gender Studies Program at Ben Gurion University.
What is the need you are trying to meet through your work?
I am trying to meet the needs of people who are trapped in a debt cycle, and as a result are unable to use their bank account, face constant limitations on their financial conduct, experience financial exclusion, and live in poverty.
Why do you do what you do?
I see inequalities and social-financial disparities everywhere I look. The gaps are huge, and growing. In health, education, employment, social services and in the justice system. As a lawyer, I believe the justice system is part of the problem with regard to economic disparities and injustices, but I also believe it has the ability and the power to create solutions. I do what I do because I want to create access and opportunity to justice and to social-economic wellbeing for those who are oppressed by the systems, and I believe that transforming services, perspectives, practices and policies within the justice system—has good potential to achieve this kind of change.
Tell us about the community you come from. How did it help shape who you are?
I live in Beersheba, the “capital of the south” in Israel, and home to strong communities and community resources. I love the desert and the pace and I feel lucky to have found a home there. I am also part of a small group of people—friends who are in fact family—we live together physically in a 500 meter radius, share our lives, share meals, raise our kids together and have joint social ventures. Lastly, as a mother of two young children, I am part of an educational community, the “Hagar” Jewish-Arab educational community in the Negev area, which enables me to send my kids to bilingual Hebrew and Arabic school that Jews and Palestinians attend together from age 3 to 12 and experience a joint and shared society.
What is one thing that you have learned in the course of doing this work that you want everyone to know?
I have learned that people who live in poverty and exclusion, experience not only financial stress but also are constantly oppressed and discriminated against by policy, practice, and daily interactions. The justice system, in particular, is blind to these disparities and therefore deepens them constantly. The way to impact this reality is to combine systemic transformative work and improvement or creation of services that aid and support people in debt and in poverty.
“Both my motivation to do this work and my confidence in my ability to create change are a direct result of my Seeds of Peace experiences from 1999 up until today.”