As Rafael stood before the juvenile court judge, he was given a stark choice: Either join one of Israel’s heavily supervised “youth villages” for teenagers at risk... or go straight to jail.

Before this pivotal moment, Rafael’s life was moving steadily and irreversibly in one devastating direction. Running with a criminal crowd in his hometown of Rehovot, increasingly under the influence of drugs and never far from an undercurrent of violence – which in this final conviction had involved a knife attack with another teen – he was out of options. He chose the youth village, and the judge assigned him to a program run by nonprofit organization Lachan.


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