Interviewer: Hello everyone, today we have a special opportunity to get an inside look into the world of the “House of Hope” campus – a unique aid center that serves different populations of children and youth in distress, with an emphasis on the ultra-Orthodox community. For this, we hosted Bracha Rones, the Chief Operating Officer of the center. Hello Bracha, could you please open and briefly tell us about this impressive campus?

Bracha Rones: Yes, gladly. The “House of Hope” campus is actually a huge building located in the heart of the Kiryat Tzanz neighborhood in Netanya, and it consolidates under one roof three different and unique frameworks, all designed to assist different populations of children and youth in severe distress.

Interviewer: Most fascinating. Let’s focus a bit more on each of these frameworks. Let’s start with “House of Hope” – the central dormitory here on campus, intended for girls from the ultra-Orthodox community. Who is it intended for exactly?

Bracha Rones: The “House of Hope” dormitory is specifically geared towards young ultra-Orthodox girls who have experienced severe traumas within their families and close environments. Some of them are orphans, some have undergone severe mental or physical abuse, and others have grown up in difficult environments.

This is a population that is very difficult to reach and treat. Ultra-Orthodox girls in such distressing situations are hidden under a veil from the ultra-Orthodox community, which does not always accommodate such severe phenomena. In our dormitory, they can heal and regrow in a supportive and professional environment.

Interviewer: It is heartbreaking to hear what these young girls have gone through. How do you work to treat them and help them recover from these terrible traumas?

Bracha Rones: First, it is important for me to clarify that the path to recovery is long and difficult, but these girls have tremendous resilience that continues to surprise me. When they arrive, we tailor a comprehensive treatment program focused on mental and physical rehabilitation for them.

They undergo individual treatments to address their traumas and extensive emotional therapies in various areas, support groups with other girls experiencing similar situations, and also receive treatment through arts and liberating physical activity. In parallel, we cater to their educational needs with lecturers and mentors from the ultra-Orthodox community.

But beyond the treatment, what is no less important is the warm and unique community atmosphere we create here. The “House of Hope” dormitory truly becomes like a large home for each of the girls. They all care for one another and cooperate on their own paths. It is a supportive community that becomes a new family unit for each of them.

Interviewer: It is moving to hear about the way you are bringing them back to life in such a sensitive and tailored manner. What happens after they complete their stay in the dormitory?

Bracha Rones: That’s a wonderful question. Indeed, even after the dormitory treatment is completed, the emotional and functional support for the girls does not stop. We provide them with tools for positive integration into ultra-Orthodox society – academic guidance and vocational training, building identity and self-confidence, and of course, support in the central process of matchmaking.

Afterwards, some of the girls continue to our transitional apartments, which serve as an intermediate stage of more independent community living on the way to full integration. For other girls who arrive with very severe wounds, it is more difficult to integrate into the conventional path of starting a family, and then we offer unique and one-of-a-kind frameworks.

The ultimate goal is to return every girl to a happy and fruitful life path, as an example of human resilience and the ability of a person to recover from the most severe traumas. With hard work, perseverance, and a lot of love, we see wonderful achievements all along the way, thank G-d.

Interviewer: Very convincing. But this campus also contains additional frameworks, right? Tell us a bit about “Beit Lev” – the framework for girls who have undergone psychiatric hospitalization.

Bracha Rones: Absolutely yes. The “Beit Lev” dormitory is a unique framework for young ultra-Orthodox girls who have undergone psychiatric hospitalization or are headed in that direction, and are dealing with various mental distresses. In fact, it is the only one of its kind for this population.

The dormitory houses between 30-35 girls aged 13-18, accompanied by a professional staff of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and spiritual counselors who envelop them in a therapeutic and emotional support system.

The focus is not only on treating mental illness, but also on strengthening their faith and ultra-Orthodox identity. The girls learn to cope with their mental distresses while continuing their traditional Jewish lives – Torah studies, observing commandments, holidays, and so on.

It is a challenging process that requires building bridges between ultra-Orthodox culture and the Western approach to treating this issue. All exposure and lectures are done discreetly and within the framework only, by a professional staff well-acquainted with the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle.

Interviewer: That does indeed sound challenging. What have you managed to achieve in this framework?

Bracha Rones: Our role in the “Beit Lev” framework is not only to treat the girls’ mental distress, but also to strengthen their ability to cope with it within ultra-Orthodox society. The process is slow and cautious, but the goal is to return them to the normal frameworks of life in the community – studies, work, and family.

Our great achievement is that we have managed to return many girls to a path of normal and meaningful lives in ultra-Orthodox society, while healthily coping with their specific mental challenges. Some even establish families while providing a new perspective for girls in similar situations.

As in the “House of Hope” dormitory, here too we accompany them for years even after the formal support has ended, and thus manage to preserve these wonderful achievements in the long run. This requires perseverance, investment, and dedication from our entire staff, but the ability to rehabilitate lives is there.

Interviewer: Undoubtedly an effort worthy of deep appreciation. Finally, we must hear something about the third framework here on campus – the emergency centers for boys and girls.

Bracha Rones: Indeed, our emergency centers are the starting point of our activity here. These are centers for the emergency admission of children who have been removed from their families due to extreme emergency situations, quickly and urgently.

Here we are dealing with the most severe cases of extreme abuse, violence, or life-threatening situations for children. When welfare authorities need to quickly remove children from the dangerous environment, they arrive at our emergency centers – a separate center for boys and a separate one for girls.

Inside these centers, which operate 24/7, the children receive a safe and warm shelter with all the necessary treatment components. There are classrooms and boarding schools, initial psychological treatment, hot meals, and of course, full holidays and Sabbaths.

This is essentially the initial triage room. After a period of up to 9 months, the children can proceed to appropriate treatment frameworks, some even in our “House of Hope” and “Beit Lev” dormitories, or they are referred to suitable foster families.

This is an incredibly protected and professional place, thanks to which we have managed to rescue many children from extremely life-threatening situations. I am always excited to see the hope in their eyes as they embark on a new path towards rehabilitation and recovery.

Interviewer: There is no doubt that this is a life-saving activity worthy of deep appreciation. Bracha, in conclusion, what is your message to the target audience that can contribute to this important endeavor?

Bracha Rones: Donations and public recognition of this life endeavor are critical for us to continue providing a response to children and youth in severe distress, especially in the ultra-Orthodox community. There are hard stories here of abuse, neglect, and deep trauma that require comprehensive and professional intervention.

Every donation, in any amount, helps us provide a safe environment, mental treatment, and an opportunity for rehabilitation and recovery for children and girls who are at the lowest points in their lives. We believe that every child, regardless of their origin and life circumstances, deserves the hope to start anew.

Our activity also includes education and vocational training that will allow them to successfully integrate into society as independent and contributing adults. All this is based on preserving their Jewish identity and values – our children and girls return to their traditional life path, but this time with new strengths to cope.

In conclusion, I call on everyone to recognize and support our important endeavor. Financial donations, volunteering, or simply spreading awareness are very meaningful for us. Only together can we succeed in kindling a spark of hope in the lives of children who have forgotten what joy is. Thank you all very much.

Interviewer: Bracha, this was a fascinating and moving interview. Thank you so much for openly and wholeheartedly sharing about your important endeavor. There is no doubt that you have managed to give many children and youth a new opportunity in life, after they have endured horrific traumas. A great well done to you and your entire staff, and may you succeed in continuing to fulfill your important mission.