Celebrating empowerment and accomplishments was the focus of a June 8 gala in New York City hosted by Emunah of America, which helps at-risk children and families in Israel.

At the organization’s annual “Women of Wonder” event, five Jewish women were honored, all Emunah volunteers from the New York metropolitan region who are professionally successful and involved in their communities.

Award recipients included Yael Oelbaum Fligelman, an industrial-organizational psychologist; Yonina Haber, a speech and language pathologist; social worker Dalia Horowitz; and stay-at-home mother Ilana Wallenstein.

“It is said that if women succeed, society succeeds,” Debbie Bienenfeld, Emunah of America’s national president, told the crowd at the event. “And it is therefore especially imperative for us—a women’s-led organization—to work towards our mission of empowering women and all vulnerable people to break the cycle of distress and build a better future.”

Also honored was Emunah’s financial secretary Sora Grunstein of Teaneck, N.J., who told the audience of about 250 people that when she decided to be an accountant at the age of 19, she had no idea that it would become a lifelong skill “to help people. But I realized at some point that I have something to give, and I want to give it.”

Haber, who lives in Englewood, N.J., told JNS it is vital for women to support each other, especially when they face challenges in their professional and home lives. “I think that women who are struggling, who are in marriages that are difficult, who aren’t able to take care of their children, they need to know that there’s someone there for them so that they can deal with this, and hopefully, bring the family back together,” she said.

Emunah of America, founded in 1948 as part of the worldwide Emunah network, supports myriad social-service and educational institutions, including 125 day-care centers, four high schools and the Emunah College in Jerusalem, as well as 10 family-counseling centers, five residential-care facilities for children, and other programs for children and families in Israel.

The agency has a seat in the Israeli Knesset, regularly advocating for women’s rights. It is also involved in public endeavors “aimed at empowering observant women, enhancing their inclusion in community life and expanding their spheres of influence,” according to its website.

Last June, Emunah of America opened Israel’s first women’s domestic-violence shelter at the request of the Israeli Ministry of Welfare and Social Services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the domestic violence hotline received more than 5,800 calls.

According to Bienenfeld, the shelter is currently at maximum capacity, housing a dozen women with 27 children in total.


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