Learn and Return

REHABILITATION PROGRAMS – The Learn and Return Shelter

Many of the young women who we have been rescued from abusive and/or dangerous situations have nowhere to go. Their parent's "disowned" them and they are all alone in the world. Learn and Return fills this void. Our shelter for abused women provides those who have escaped, with the physical, emotional and vocational support that they need to get their lives back on track.

Once safely out of her predators hands, Learn and Return help these young women embark on a new life. Escapees find shelter either in our Shelter or in half-way homes where basic needs are attended to. In the homes, young women receive safe shelter, food, clothing and guidance to help them in the early stages of their rehabilitation. The girls receive counseling, therapy, social & educational enrichment, vocational job training and job placement assistance. The girls remain in the shelter for as long as necessary – the average is 12 months.

Program Description

This program encompasses all aspects of the young woman's life. Once she has escaped her abusive life, with Learn and Return's help or independently, a young woman with nowhere else to go is offered shelter. Emergency admittance to the shelter is offered for a transition period during which the girls undergo examination and evaluation by a professional psychologist. Tentative living arrangements are found until she is in a stable enough condition to join the main shelter.

The Transition

Upon escape from an abusive situation, young women are in a most susceptible state. It is essential to provide the emergency therapy required to achieve a certain level of emotional safety.

The Shelter

Upon admission to the shelter, a psychologist together with the program coordinator and the young woman construct a detailed action plan.

Participation in the program is conditional to the young woman's complete acceptance of all shelter rules (see below). A contract is signed by both the escapee who commits to fulfilling all rules and obligations and Learn and Return who pledge to fulfill the young woman's needs as outlined.

Residents of the shelter are assigned a bed and provided with linens and basic clothing when necessary. The coordinator or housemother is available for counseling and guidance 24/7. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and educators work in coordination with the counseling staff (counselor and housemother) to ensure that all elements of the girls’ empowerment process are addressed.

As part of the rehabilitation program, a cadre of normative Tzefat families has been recruited to serve as hosting families who invite veteran residents for Shabbat meals to help girls experience normal family type interactions – something that many of our girls have never experienced.

Families work on a volunteer basis. Many develop personal relations with “their girl” who they nurture on a different level than that of the professional shelter staff.

According to the house rules, residents must:

  • Participate in upkeep of the shelter. Chores are shared by all residents.
  • Work in volunteer or paying jobs (the organization finds residents places of employment)
  • Take part in all courses that are provided
  • Not communicate with former abusive mates – on the phone, email, or social media
  • Allow only females to enter the shelter (including L&L Staff)

The Daily Schedule:

Residents are responsible to get up and ready for their job, on their own. The house mother is on premises every morning to ensure that the women fulfill their obligations.

Each resident goes to their job where they work for the next several hours. L&L staff is in constant contact with employers to ensure that the women perform the jobs as required and work with the women to assist them in their integration to this new situation. Adjustments are implemented to work conditions when necessary.

Upon return to the shelter, residents meet with the coordinator or housemother for personal mentoring and problem solving sessions.

Group therapy sessions are conducted weekly. These sessions give residents the opportunity to share experiences with each other (past and present) in a facilitated nurturing framework. Personal therapy sessions are conducted as outlined in each resident's personal action plan. Personal counseling sessions are conducted with each resident, ongoing.

Residents are responsible for purchasing food, cleaning materials and hygienic items within a strictly supervised budget (as part of our financial life skill training). All items are purchased "on credit" at the local grocery and paid for by the organization rather than giving these woman cash that may tempt them during these initial stages of rehabilitation.

During the evenings, residents take part in assorted empowerment and training programs at the shelter and at a local community center.

Residents' progress in followed closely. As a means of encouraging positive development, we have developed an incentive package. Veteran residents, who have proved themselves worthy, will be promoted to a senior status in which they enjoy additional privileges while they serve as a role model for others.

Underlying Principles

  • All residents are treated with respect
  • Staff works with girls to uncover talents and skills and helps them develop these skills as a means to personal empowerment
  • To provide a loving, warm home environment (often the first ever) for participants. This environment can be duplicated by residents in their own homes, when they live independently
  • To believe in the residents ability to restart their lives – our belief in them transpires to feelings of self worth
  • To provide a comprehensive support system made up of care givers and the young women themselves who care for each other
  • To bring residents to the point of serving as a role model for others as vehicle to empowerment

Residents' progress in followed closely. As a means of encouraging positive development, we have developed an incentive package. Veteran residents, who have proved themselves worthy, will be promoted to a senior status in which they enjoy additional privileges. The veterans feel responsibility to serve as positive role models thus further empowering them. Each resident will have the opportunity to become a veteran….

Efrat was 15 when her parents kicked her out of her home. With no place to go, she ended up on the streets, and became addicted to drugs. In a short time, she ended up in a village. She managed to contact Learn and Return and was rescued. We helped her get off the drugs and provided her with therapy and a place in the shelter.

In her words, Efrat explained, "I had been living on the streets for 2 years. This is the first time in my life I feel wanted and at home.
Rabbanit Gigi found me a job and I now volunteer with "special" people. I am so happy everyday when I come home and someone is waiting for me with a smile. I have my own bed! They really believe in me here and for the first time in my life I am starting to feel good about myself".

Rabbanit Gigi - My Job is to Put the Light Back in the Faces of These Girls

"The girls rescued from Arab villages come to our shelter totally broken and devastated,” says Rabbanit Gigi, head counselor at the Learn and Return shelter. “They don't trust anyone and they can't even look you in the eye. I try to find a point in them to build them up – to return their self-worth. It takes a lot of work and a lot of love, but my job is to put the light back in the faces of these girls, and the happiness back in their lives."

After an evaluation of each new girl, a committee meets to decide the best way to help her. Does she need psychiatric or psychological help? Counseling? Everything that can and should be done for the girl is quickly arranged.

The girls are assigned rooms and are required to do their share of duties in their new home, a three-story villa tucked away in northern Israel. They cook, clean, shop and serve the nourishing food that builds their strength along with their self-esteem. Then Rabbanit Gigi finds them a job. Some choose to volunteer, some work with special kids, but everyone finds a position from which she can start to give and feel good about herself.
Rabbanit Gigi the mother they never had.

"It’s a long road, but once the girls come here and realize they are safe and that we really care, they start to blossom,” Rabbanit Gigi relates. They are so happy to have a bed, a roof over their head, and warm food. We become a family to them and they know they can turn to us for anything. Once they feel safe and loved, they start to find the good in themselves and blossom."
Learn and Return
Preventing Abuse of Jewish Girls in Israel
IN ISRAEL: PO Box 5155 Jerusalem 9105101, Israel • Telephone: (972) – 2-651-4538 • Amutah #: 58-058-964-6
IN U.S.: PO Box 761069 Los Angeles, CA 90076 • U.S.A tax deductible 501(c)3 # : 45-545-0973 • info@learnandreturn.us