A Helping Hand for Mothers
For many years pregnant women and young mothers from disadvantaged or insecure backgrounds lacked an address to turn to for counsel and practical assistance. New immigrants and visitors to Israel also found themselves in serious difficulties, lacking the resources to face an impending birth.
The plight of these women and their babies motivated Professor Avrohom Schwartzbaum, a lecturer in social psychology in Tel Aviv University and Mrs. Yocheved Blanck, a longstanding social volunteer worker of Jerusalem, to establish the Yad Letinok charity in 1990. The charity started operations from a private apartment in the Ramot suburb of Jerusalem. Today Yad Letinok has branches in many Jerusalem neighborhoods and sub-offices in Haifa, Dimona, Bnei Brak, Kiryat Sefer and Betar Illit.
Yad Letinok Support Services
Yad Letinok seeks to provide pregnant women and new mothers with the moral and material support they cannot obtain from within their own families and the Israeli social services. Help extended includes:
Counseling through the pregnancy and after birth.
Domestic help for high-risk pregnancies.
Grants to buy food.
Gifts of clothes for mother and baby.
Provision of baby cribs, carriages and baby furniture.
Free baby-sitting service.
Financing a stay at a rest home for new mothers.
Social workers, rabbis and friends refer women to Yad Letinok, and many others come on their own accord after reading or hearing about the charity. At present an average of 50 or 60 women receive help every month. Before the Holiday seasons the rise in living expenses leads to a dramatic increase in calls for assistance. Aid from Yad Letinok offers these women the lifeline they need to continue their pregnancy and care for their new babies. Once a connection is made with a mother-to-be or new mother in need, field workers maintain contact for as long as assistance is needed (and this period sometimes extends over several years).
Experience shows how the right kind of considerate help can avert the sort of family tragedies that regularly come to the attention of Yad Letinok workers. Over the past thirteen years the lives of many hundreds of unborn babies have been saved. Hundreds of new mothers have been helped through desperate family crises. Albums full of smiling mother and baby photographs in the office, testify to the success of this mother and baby support program.
Yad Letinok has received the approbation of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Rabbi Pinchas Scheinberg, Rabbi Yisroel Grossman and Rabbi Yitzchak Kulitz and Rabbi Sholom Meshash - the Ashkenazi and Sephardi Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem, respectively. The work of Yad Letinok has also attracted Government attention. The Minister of Labour and Social Welfare has praised the work of Yad Letinok in the Knesset and the Ministry has issued an official letter of recommendation. Yad Letinok is also officially recognized by the Jerusalem Municipality`s Volunteer Division.
A Happier Prospect for Mother and Baby
Yad Letinok has a special wish that this year will be a year of dramatic improvement in the situation of pregnant and nursing women in plight. Mrs. Blanck has ambitious plans for expanding Yad Letinok activities. An immediate priority is opening a branch office in Tel Aviv to help the pregnant women and needy mothers in Israel's largest conurbation. Eventually other Israeli cities should also benefit from a local Yad Letinok office, working to improve the situation of this most vulnerable sector of society.
Ultimately Mrs. Blanck hopes to build a national Yad Letinok Center in Jerusalem. This center will combine a variety of welfare services under one roof and also house an office to organize and coordinate national activities. It should become a well-known address for women in need of pregnancy and motherhood support. Here they will find an apartment available for short-term refuge from intolerable domestic tensions. They will also benefit from a range of counseling services for pregnancy and family problems. Additional benefits would arise from the centralization of the clothing and furniture storerooms, currently situated in three different localities.
Yad Letinok uses only volunteer workers and at present relies on private contributions. Expanding activities to respond to the rising incidence of crisis pregnancies and births poses a formidable challenge. The difficult economic situation in the country has adversely affected donations. It is easy for people to say that they care about the mothers and babies Yad Letinok tries to help, but sympathy alone is insufficient.
Yad Letinok needs above all people willing to invest their time and money in its lifesaving activities. The Talmud compares saving one Jewish life with saving a world - Yad Letinok knows of many such "worlds" on the verge of destruction. With your active support Yad Letinok can help many more needy women fulfill the responsibilities of their parenthood.
If you are able to contribute to Yad Letinok as a sponsor or want any additional information, please contact Mrs. Yocheved Blanck at:
14/29 Tsafririm St., P.O.B. 23634,
Jerusalem. Tel. (02) 5866348.
internet site: http://yadletinok.tripod.com
from the July 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine