Each monthly package of baby supplies delivered by EFRAT C.R.I.B. (the Committee for the Rescue of Israel’s Babies) to women who made the decision not to terminate their pregnancies bears a handwritten inscription: “To the best mother in the world! ❤”
“That really sums up the message that we endeavor to transmit to mothers,” explains Ruthy Tidhar, head social worker at EFRAT. “The women who come to us are in crisis on so many levels. They feel alone, afraid, and in despair. Subject to pressure from all sides to terminate their pregnancy, they feel incapable of caring for a child. With empathy and sensitivity, we show them that they’re not alone and that help exists. It’s not about convincing them one way or another, but rather, empowering them to believe in their own strength and ability so that they can make the best decision for themselves.”
EFRAT’s trained, highly experienced volunteers and professional staff form a multi-pronged support system for women who are facing what is likely the greatest challenge of their lives. “We show them that there are options, and that we are there for them. Once they internalize this, they are able to start believing in themselves,” Ruthy says.
Rehabilitating Entire Families
Financial support is provided in the form of a complete package to cover all of baby’s needs: a crib, stroller, bathtub, infant seat, layette, etc. For the baby’s first two years, the woman receives monthly deliveries of diapers, wipes, infant formula and more — and often also staple food items for the family. “This baby, who we thought would be a financial drain, turned out to be a source of blessing for the whole family,” remarked Orit, whose baby Noam was born thanks to EFRAT.
Before and after birth, EFRAT’s volunteers, located across the country, provide a listening ear, moral support, and where necessary, referrals to social services.
Often, the relationship extends far beyond birth and postpartum. “We become like family,” says Miri K., who has been volunteering with EFRAT for over 25 years. “I’m invited to the bris, birthday parties and family celebrations.” Miri has also helped women access benefits and put them in contact with programs that enabled them to become self-supporting in the long term.
Giving Hope to Birth
The organization’s rationale is that expectant women who are pondering abortion have the right to receive the most updated information relating to all aspects of their physical and mental health. Top ob/gyn Dr. Yonatan Schussheim followed in the footsteps of his illustrious father, EFRAT founder Dr. Eli Schussheim, of blessed memory, in pursuing a medical career. Since his father’s passing last June, he took over and began providing medical consultations at EFRAT.
“Most women are pitifully unaware of the ramifications of abortion,” Dr. Schussheim points out. “Notwithstanding the risk of physical complications,” he said, “the emotional fallout, in the form of regret, can be life-long and devastating. That is something no one thinks to tell these women.”
Tragically, tens of thousands of babies in Israel are lost each year, and the main reason is financial distress. With his motto, “You don’t end a life for lack of funds,” Dr. Eli Schussheim worked tirelessly for over four decades to save Jewish lives through empowering women. For him, every baby born was a cause for celebration, and every new mother was to be congratulated. “Save just one child and you’ve saved all their generations to come!” he said.
Today EFRAT has become so efficient that the cost of saving a life, including the entire package, amounts to a mere $1,500. Each donor who saves a life is given the name and date of birth of the child they saved.
Without doubt, the organization has had hand in shaping Israeli society — well over 80,000 people are alive today through the intervention of EFRAT! But even that number falls short of the true impact, proclaims Nir Salomon, executive director of EFRAT. “Not a day goes by without a woman calling to tell us that a lecture given by our spokespeople – recently or even years ago —had completely changed her perspective on childbirth, and that she became a mother thanks to us!” he says.
EFRAT’s office is flooded with letters of appreciation. “I can’t imagine what life would be like without my baby!” is an almost universal statement from mothers across the gamut of Israeli society.
The public is invited to visit EFRAT’s offices in Yerushalayim and see for themselves the walls that are covered, from top to bottom, with photos of adorable, smiling babies whose families are eternally grateful.