Medabrot Ivrit (Women Speaking Hebrew)

“Medabrot Ivrit” (Women Speaking Hebrew) offers Hebrew conversational skills to Arab women from East Jerusalem, in collaboration with the Hebrew University’s Social Involvement Unit, MA’AN (Workers Advice Center) and MATI (the Jerusalem Business Development Center).

 

Goals

 

The project aims to remove the language barrier that limits the ability of East Jerusalem women to lead an autonomous life in the city - from accomplishing daily street errands to dealing with governmental agencies, accessing medical services and integrating in educational institutions and the labour market. Practical Hebrew skills strengthen these women’s status and influence in both the private and public spheres, providing them with an increased sense of control over their own lives and helping them navigating the city independently and confidently, in accordance with their individual needs. Moreover, practical Hebrew skills reinforce these women’s impact in the various circles in which they live and work, such as in their community where they can take on an activist role, in their family, in their professional setting, etc.

 

Project Description 

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The project aims to remove the language barrier that limits the ability of East Jerusalem women to lead an autonomous life in the city - from accomplishing daily street errands to dealing with governmental agencies, accessing medical services and integrating in educational institutions and the labour market. Practical Hebrew skills strengthen these women’s status and influence in both the private and public spheres, providing them with an increased sense of control over their own lives and helping them navigating the city independently and confidently, in accordance with their individual needs. Moreover, practical Hebrew skills reinforce these women’s impact in the various circles in which they live and work, such as in their community where they can take on an activist role, in their family, in their professional setting, etc.

It is on these grounds that in March 2013 we launched the project “Women Speaking Hebrew” with one group of 20 women we taught on a voluntary basis. Today, about 420 women from all over East Jerusalem, aged 12 to 70+, take part in the project. They include mothers, social workers, school principals and secretaries, teachers, nurses, MDA volunteers, saleswomen, kindergarten teachers, university students and high school pupils. Since its establishment, the project has counted over 1,800 graduates and some 250 instructors.

 

Background

 

The project was set up in 2013 as a response to the demand by women from Issawiya neighborhood, who faced a language barrier on a daily basis and were looking for a Hebrew learning program that would suit their pressing needs. These women have less access to Hebrew than men since they are less involved in the public sphere in West Jerusalem, where Hebrew is the spoken language. Most of the Hebrew courses offered in Jerusalem are very costly, do not fit the schedules of mothers or working women, and do not answer their needs in terms of content. In addition, many women feel uncomfortable participating in mixed-gender language courses, for both personal and religious reasons. All of these factors have made numerous women dependent upon others, exacerbating their lack of self-confidence.

 
Celebrating the end of the hebrew classes with Lissan and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem
A volunteer using Lissan NGO's special book to teach Arab women Hebrew
A volunteer using Lissan NGO's method to teach spoken Hebrew

 

This academic year 2018-2019, fourteen groups are studying on the campus of Mount Scopus, mornings and afternoons, as part of our collaboration with the Hebrew University. All of the fourteen groups’ coordinators are granted an annual scholarship in the framework of which they also participate in a weekly enrichment program throughout the academic year. This combination of working and learning enhances the young coordinators’ ability to lead their study groups, encourages them to become more involved in the social fabric of the city and to act as agents of future change.

Women Speaking Hebrew on Mount Scopus Campus

 
 

Medabrot Ivrit (Women speaking Hebrew) - MAAN 

 

This academic year 2018-2019, two groups are studying in Musrara neighborhood in cooperation with the workers’ organization “MAAN”. This project branch is intended for women who participate in MAAN’s employment program and focuses on professional Hebrew. Lessons are designed to increase these women’s participation in the workforce and to enhance their ability to fully exercise their rights in the workplace.

 

A research conducted in 2015 shows that the participation rate of East Jerusalem women in the workforce is especially low, with an unemployment rate standing at 87%. Lack of Hebrew knowledge is one of the obstacles preventing their integration in the labour market. Moreover, recent years have exposed a pattern of exploitative employment of East Jerusalem women in matters regarding wages, social conditions, etc. The phenomenon is in part made possible by women’s weak position in the labour market. In view of these facts, MAAN began in 2016 to dedicate some of its resources to supporting employed and unemployed women in fulfilling their rights, through a variety of initiatives. It is in this context that the organization approached us, leading to the launching of our joint project in 2017.

Medabrot ivrit (Women speaking Hebrew) - MATI

 

 

This academic year 2018-2019, two groups are studying at the MATI center situated in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in cooperation with the nonprofit organization MATI (Jerusalem Business Development Center). This project branch is intended for women participating in MATI's entrepreneurship program and focuses on professional Hebrew. Lessons are designed to help women establishing and operating an independent business.​

80

Volunteers

540

Students

18

Groups 

2000

Graduates

An Arab volunteer teach Arabic

Volunteer using Lissan NGO special Method to teach Arabic