ELEM'S Newsletter, November 2016

Klafte boutique in Jerusalem trains ELEM youth

ELEM'S Youth Enter the Job Market

Youth who are troubled often find it difficult to focus and do well in the classroom. Many of them drop out of school and look for jobs but have difficulty entering the workforce, keeping them on a continuing downward spiral.

ELEM helps these youth to get Off the Streets and On to Life by integrating them into special independent business initiatives and offering job training. This program lets them become acquainted with the business world and gain practical skills, while learning to take responsibility for themselves and accept a disciplined work environment.

A wonderful example of a ELEM’s vocational projects is Klafte, a new woman’s clothing store in downtown Jerusalem on Agrippas Street. The store sells new fashionable clothing donated by clothing manufacturers. ELEM youth who work at the store learn general business, while being mentored by an ELEM social worker. As their competence improves, their self-confidence rises and these youth are better able to handle the challenges in their lives and look for other employment.

Happy Thanksgiving from Editor Mitchell Slepian

This Thanksgiving, I will be at my sister’s house eating the classic American tradition: turkey and cranberry sauce. Every year, I think of the Thanksgiving day I spent with ELEM in 2011 at small park adjacent to 9 Reshit Chochma Street in Tel Aviv.

An ELEM Outreach Van with social workers and volunteers pulled up. This team works with the “Someone to Run With” program for youth who are at greatest risk. They put out suitcases loaded with clothes that youth could take. A handful of teens who apparently lived on the street walked into the park and were greeted with hugs from the ELEM volunteers.

The volunteers and staff had prepared sandwiches to distribute and gave me a turkey and hummus sandwich. I explained the custom of Thanksgiving in the United States and noted with a smile the lack of cranberry sauce on their sandwiches. They smiled back, though I’m not sure they understood what cranberry sauce was, and passed me another sandwich.  I will always remember this as my favorite Thanksgiving.

ELEM volunteers preparing sandwiches for Israeli youth

Photo: by Mitchell Slepian


Volunteer of the Month - Smadar Giladi

Inspired by Elie Wiesel’s Z”L involvement with ELEM early on, Smadar Giladi volunteers in our U.S. office. She has a passion for raising funds to help Israeli youth in need.  Smadar helps us by creating databases of synagogues, sisterhoods, brotherhoods and Jewish schools across the country to enable ELEM to educate their members about troubled Israeli youth and to raise funds to address the issues these youth face.

Born and raised in Petach Tikva, Smadar attended Hebrew University and worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She was offered the opportunity to work at the Embassy of Israel in D.C. and moved to NYC in 1982 to work at the Permanent Mission to the U.N. as an assistant to now Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu, who was the Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. at the time.

Smadar is striving to make the difference Wiesel referenced in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: “There is so much that can be done.  One person, a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, a Martin Luther King Jr., one person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death.”

ELEM USA is a very lean organization, with only two full-time paid staff, so Smadar’s work on this important project is truly needed. Thank you Smadar! Your work does make a difference and is deeply appreciated.

Volunteer of the Month – Smadar Giladi

Photo: by Mitchell Slepian

Have you visited an ELEM project? Would you be interested in writing a blog or social media post about it? We'd love to hear from you. Email us at [email protected].

Executive Director's Letter

Dear Friends:

I have some news to share with you.  I will be leaving ELEM on Jan. 31, 2017 after over two great years as Executive Director to make Aliyah – emigrating to Israel – this spring.  Although I am saddened to be leaving this wonderful organization, I am overjoyed to be moving to Israel.

My wife Jeannie and I and our children have shared the dream of Jews for generations of moving to Israel to directly contribute to building and strengthening our Jewish homeland. Our youngest son is already in Israel as a soldier in the Israeli army and we hope our other children and grandchildren will join us soon.

ELEM USA is now much better prepared to educate the American community about our work in Israel and to raise the needed funds to make a difference in the lives of thousands of youth. Officers Lenore Ruben, president; Lori Gosset, vice president; and Katie Behrens, treasurer have done an outstanding job as leaders and have inspired me and all of the ELEM family with their dedication to our success. Special thanks also to our generous donors, committed volunteers including our Board, committee members, special consultants, and student interns.

Since we are a small full-time professional team of two, my deep appreciation goes to our administrative assistant Liora Attias, whose dedication and skill plays a critical role in our success. And how grateful we are for the continued involvement of Ann Bialkin, our co-founder and chair. All of us stand on the shoulders of Ann and the original visionaries whose efforts continue to inspire us.

The process of seeking a new professional head of ELEM has begun and I have no doubt that ELEM will continue to grow as a new executive director takes the helm.

Together, we continue to have a big responsibility to thousands of at-risk youth in Israel who depend on ELEM. I do hope you will strengthen your partnership with ELEM’s work in Israel by sharing a generous end of the year gift at ELEM.org or calling our NY office at 212-787-3337.

Warmest wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving and see you in Israel!

Rabbi Dr. Eric M. Lankin

Executive Director


ELEM/Youth in Distress in Israel


Ann Bialkin, Chair

Lenore Ruben, President

Lori Gosset, Vice President

Mitchell Slepian, Newsletter Editor