haredi girls 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A group of 150 female haredi high school students got a taste of the business
world this week.
They participated in a workshop on Tuesday in which they
presented potential business ideas to a panel of advisers from the First
International Bank of Israel who provided professional feedback and guidance for
the proposed initiatives.
The workshop is part of a larger program of the
Turning Point project, which was established in 2007 and provides different
services and initiatives for at-risk youth around the country.
beginning of the current academic year, Turning Point, a combined project of the
First International Bank, Matan and Ashalim-JDC, initiated a program designed
to provide general life skills for the working environment and assist haredi
high school girls with entering the job market and starting
At the beginning of the year, teachers from 10 haredi girls
educational institutes underwent an intensive training course given by
Ashalim-JDC staff to enable them to teach the course to their pupils, which has
now been running in the selected institutes since September.
girls have a lot of pressure to leave school at 17, and most get married around
the age of 18 and quickly start a family,” said Noya Baram, a senior program
manager for youth at risk at Ashalim.
“They also have pressure to earn
money and put food on the table and so often take on basic work, such as at a
local supermarket, office work, child-minders and kindergarten teachers, but
their horizons don’t stretch much beyond that.”
The new initiative is
designed to develop a different attitude to working life and show the girls that
an entire framework can be built around it, Baram continued. They can find work
that they are really passionate about and through which they can continue to
learn, gain more skills and work in many different fields, she
Ashalim-JDC first approached the Jerusalem Municipality with the
idea, which then helped coordinate with the haredi institutes interested in
adopting the program.
During the course, which is given in weekly
lessons, the pupils are taught how to make connections and networks for finding
employment, computer proficiency, entrepreneurship and business-planning skills,
business finance, applying for loans, return on investment, public speaking and
The course is taught not as a traditional lesson but
through workshops, field trips to see different professions and businesses,
speakers from the First International Bank and other hands-on
Baram related how, at the beginning of the course, the pupils in
the program were asked what they were good at and what they wanted to do in the
future. The response from most of the girls was that they did not think they
were good at anything in particular and had no vision for what they wanted to do
in the future.
When the same questions were asked again several weeks
into the course, many of the pupils were able to give fuller answers. One girl,
Baram said, described how she liked watching her mother sew and imagined
different designs in her head. She was taken, within the framework of the
program, to the studio of a weddingdress designer to expose her to one idea of
where she could take her individual talents and passions in order to develop an
enjoyable and productive working life. The owner also happened to be someone
from the girl’s neighborhood and offered her employment during vacations to gain
The Turning Point project also hopes to expand the
program to haredi boys schools, specifically educational institutes set up for
youth who have not succeeded in the traditional Torah-based educational
During Tuesday’s workshop, all 150 pupils – who have been
developing a business idea for the past few months in groups of four – presented
their ideas to a panel of three volunteers from the First International
After the presentation, the panelists provided advice and input as
to whether the idea could succeed at all, and if so, how to develop, adapt and
improve the business plan for the best possible chance of success.
with projects that were deemed unfeasible were given advice for designing a new
In June, the pupils will have to present a full business plan
including financial planning, marketing and business development in front of the
CEO of the JDC and a senior manager from the First International Bank.