ELEM'S Newsletter, August 2015

What’s happening at ELEM-USA

While our partners in Israel are working directly with 25,000 troubled teens and young adults and provide critical social services and support, we, in the US, work to build support for these efforts in Israel including raising awareness and fundraising. Our major fundraiser of the year, the annual Gala Benefit Dinner, was held on May 12 at Espace in New York City. We were pleased to honor Frances Katz, a distinguished social worker, philanthropist and long-time ELEM Board member with the Ray of Hope Award. Also recognized was Claudette C’Faison, President and CEO of Unlocking Futures, Inc. who was awarded our ELEM Lifesaver Award for her outstanding efforts with troubled teens and young adults in New York City. We are thrilled to share that more than $450,000 was raised that evening for ELEM teens!

Rabbi Eric Lankin, Frances Katz, Claudette C’Faison and Lenore Ruben at the ELEM Gala

SAVE THE DATE: ELEM’s Annual Mission to Israel with an option for a pre-mission to London: November 30 – December 10, 2015: Three nights/Four days in London, Seven nights/Eight days in Israel. Meet and learn from local experts about the care of at-risk teens and young adults in Great Britain. Experience directly ELEM’s critical efforts in Israel plus time for touring, shopping and much more. Contact the office for updated information.

We are seeking individual ELEM supporters to deepen their involvement with us by joining our Board and/or serving on volunteer committees. For more information, contact Rabbi Eric M. Lankin, DMin., Executive Director at  or 212-787-3337.


I am delighted to welcome you to the ELEM/Youth in Distress in Israel quarterly newsletter! We hope that this brief update of our activities in Israel and in the United States will provide insight into the situation of thousands of troubled youth in Israel who have dropped out of mainstream society.

Our newsletter is called Off the Streets and On to Life because it plainly describes ELEM’s goal in Israel. Since 1982, ELEM staff and volunteers have provided counseling, support and vocational training to at-risk teens and young adults. ELEM’s 280 staff and 1700 volunteers create a caring, non-judgmental environment where 25,000 troubled youth each year from all backgrounds — Jews, Arabs including Bedouins, immigrants and those nativeborn — receive the tools and guidance to transform their lives. We help another 100,000 youth annually who reach out to ELEM online.

ELEM’s 78 programs in 43 cities are open to youth from every segment of society.They are struggling with typical adolescent issues; drug and alcohol addiction; prostitution; abuse and those living on the streets. ELEM’s staff and volunteers are literally on the front lines – – on the streets — reaching out to these youth.

Enjoy this issue and discover how ELEM’S unique programs have gotten thousands of youth Off the Streets and On to Life. I invite you to visit our new website  and please let me know what you think.

There are many ways to be involved in ELEM’s work and your help provides direct support to troubled Israeli youth.Thank you in advance for your involvement. Please feel free to call me at 212-787-3337 or write to [email protected].

Relish these last weeks of summer!

Rabbi Eric M. Lankin, DMin

Executive Director

Donate To ELEM


Eliran arrived at the ELEM Coffee & Small Talk – Hafuch Al Hafuch Center dressed in his gas station uniform, sat down and gulped down half a bottle of wine that was in his pocket. He had just lost this temp job. He felt like a loser and desperately needed someone with whom to talk.

Eliran was sexually abused by his stepfather from ages 7-10. It is no surprise that Eliran turned to drugs at a young age to escape constant abuse. Eliran felt alone, unloved, and extremely depressed.

For Eliran, ELEM became family. He goes to The Hafuch Center three times a week to talk with ELEM counselors and volunteers who truly care about his well-being. At ELEM, Eliran and many other youth and young adults receive compassion, care, and hope for a better future.


According to a recent article in the Jerusalem Post, 53 percent of Israeli young people suffer from abuse and/or victimization.


1. An increase in the number of youth participating in ELEM programs from the Arab and Chareidi/Ultra-Orthodox sectors – this increase is a result of the expansion of ELEM’s services in these communities (14.1% in 2014 compared to 9% in 2013)

2. Increase in sexual violence via the web and social media, which destroys teenagers personal networks and reputations

3. Development and expansion of work with new populations and sectors in accordance with ELEM’s organizational plan – During the year two additional Hafuch Finjan centers were set up in the villages of Abu Krinat and Tel Arad in the Bedouin community. In addition, an innovative project was set up for Bedouin girls in Tel Arad. A similar center is in the process of being set up in Bir HaDadg. 4. We have seen parents of youth in programs becoming stronger, more involved in their children’s life and strengthening their cooperation with the project staff.


Let us introduce ELEM’s volunteer of the month, Natasha. Natasha, 27, has been a volunteer at Lighthouse Center – Migdalor in Kiryat Malachi for over a year. This program focuses on new immigrant youth. Natasha began as a counselor for the Zumba group for young women and she continues to establish new groups in various subjects, such as empowerment, self-confidence, and Ethiopian culture. Natasha is also an amazing planner of parties and holiday events. For all this and more, we thank her.

“The Biggest Loser” Conquers Her Body Issues

Here is one young woman’s first-person account of how she conquered her body issues and regained her confidence at ELEM’s A Real Home – Bayit Amiti program:

“I am on a journey that is not only about my weight or external beauty. It is to destroy the barriers that I put up to protect me and cope. I know they have also held me back all of these years. They gave me the opportunity to hide. I just returned from a 6-mile run and a bicycle ride. Who would have believed that it is me in the picture below? It’s amazing where I am today compared to where I’ve been.

After a long period of time on this journey of self-discovery, I am discovering places that until now I was unable to reach. I fought with my body, with my soul and with everything I had. How can a girl like me run with such a body and so much weight? It took me time, but now I am beginning to believe in myself, believe in a body that can run and accomplish because of the amazing support and guidance from ELEM’s social workers at A Real Home – Bayit Amiti.

Even with support, the journey isn’t easy. Some are jealous of me for my weight loss, but I don’t pay attention. I am discovering myself and it is difficult to get used to this new body. I am learning to embrace and nurture my body, and not hurt it anymore. I am searching for myself inside my body, fighting to find the connection between the body and soul.

A Real Home – Bayit Amiti is a safe place where I needed to make a choice, and let these people help me! To choose to get better for myself! That is the hardest part. To figure out how to accomplish my goals on this journey. To climb the mountain, get wounded, and still ask for help. Sometimes it is incomprehensible to think that I need the help, but yes, both you and I can do it. Everyone can do it.”