When NA’AMAT USA National President Elizabeth Raider visited Karmiel this past summer, she liked what she saw.
Raider, who together with her husband lived in Pittsburgh’s sister city in the Jewish state from 1986-88, noticed with pride how it had grown up over the past quarter century.
“For me, there’s a lot of personal satisfaction to go there and see how it’s developed into a full-fledged city,” Raider told the Chronicle, “and that NA’AMAT has played such an important part to help women in that part of the country.”
That “part” she referred to comes in the form of the Weiner NA’AMAT Pittsburgh Center for Women’s Health, which the Pittsburgh chapter of NA’AMAT opened in 2000. The Weiner Center offers counseling and physical therapy for women dealing with medical issues. The Weiner Center is undergoing an expansion, she happily noted.
“They are currently adding a second floor. The demand has been so great for the kinds of services they offer,” Raider said. “It’s a good size building, lots of rooms for counseling, physical activities — such as yoga — and other programs to help women get through rehab, and it’s run very professionally.”
Raider was in Pittsburgh last week to be the keynote speaker at NA’AMAT-Pittsburgh’s annual Spiritual Adoption/Scholarship Dinner at Congregation Beth Shalom.
In addition to promoting its spiritual adoption and general scholarship programs for Israeli girls, teens and young women, NA’AMAT-Pittsburgh used the evening to honor Helen Faye and Ray Rosenblum for their service to the community.
Spiritual Adoption, according to Raider, is one of NA’AMAT’s oldest programs, dating back to parentless children who came to Israel from Europe following World War II. At the time, NA’AMAT sold so-called “Spiritual Adoption Scholarships” at $360 per child — $1 for each day of the year — to cover the cost of preschool education for which girls may not otherwise experience.
NA’AMAT still sells Spiritual Adoption scholarships at $360 apiece, although, “these days that doesn’t stretch as far,” Raider said, “but we still offer them and people today can buy as many spiritual adoptions as they like.”
NA’AMAT also sells scholarships to support high school girls transitioning to vocational schools or college, scholarships to boarding schools for troubled teens and professional scholarships for young women breaking into fields such as law and medicine and other disciplines requiring a professional degree.
She especially noted the professional scholarship program as a way of breaking down barriers to Israeli women in the workplace.
“It’s trying to fill a void in Israeli society,” she said, “to encourage women to move onto other fields that have been traditionally male dominated.”
Raider has been NA’AMAT’s national president for 2 1/2 years. Previously, the University of Michigan graduate and former high school teacher served as the organization’s National Leadership Development chair.
NA’AMAT, which, in Hebrew, stands for “Movement of Working Women and Volunteers,” is an organization and a movement striving to enhance the quality of life for women, children and families in Israel, the United States and around the world. Originally named Pioneer Women, it was founded as a sister movement to NA’AMAT Israel.
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)