Report: 1 Million Visits to Prostituted Women in Israel Monthly

More than one million times each month, prostituted persons are exploited in Israel, according to an investigative report by Israel’s Channel 1 TV.

Gili Varon, Director of ATZUM's Task Force on Human Trafficking, being interviewed as part of the Channel 1 expose

Gili Varon, Director of ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking, being interviewed as part of the Channel 1 expose

The report exposed the extensive prostitution “industry” throughout Israel and the abuse, exploitation and misery of the thousands of women who are prostituted to serve the demand for paid sexual services.  

“Is there such a thing as a woman who wants to be in prostitution?” the reporter asked a formerly prostituted woman, who now works in a shelter helping other women and girls exit the nightmare and rebuild their lives.

“There is no such thing as a woman who goes into prostitution because that’s what she wants to do,” was her response. “It’s nothing more than emotional and physical abuse. It slowly murders your soul. I’ve never met anyone who does it by choice.”

The report explores possible solutions to this widespread degradation of women’s rights and dignity in Israel, including  the campaign to adopt the Nordic Model, which ATZUM is spearheading.

The Nordic Model criminalizes the purchase of sexual services, while decriminalizing the sale of such services. It thus protects vulnerable women, by sending a strong message that buying sex is not to be tolerated.  The model originated in Sweden, which has seen a major decrease in prostitution since its introduction, as well as a shift in the society’s view of people who buy sexual services.

Gili Varon, Director of ATZUM’s Task Force’ on Human Trafficking, was interviewed as part of the TV report. She was asked to respond to those who say that the sale and purchase of sex should be legalized and regulated, as opposed to the Nordic Model. 

“The model of regulated prostitution is unconscionable from a moral standpoint, and in fact it has failed in those countries where it has been implemented,” Gili said in her interview. “We have to pursue the proposed legislation to criminalize buying sex, whereby criminal status is imposed on buyers. They are perpetuating this injustice and exploiting women who have been fallen to a low place due to difficult life circumstances.”

View the full Channel 1 report here (in Hebrew):


This report highlights the urgent need for action against the prostitution scourge in Israel. 

To learn more about ATZUM’s campaign to fight prositution in Israel, visit the Task Force on Human Trafficking

You’re Invited to ATZUM’s Event in Chicago on October 8

Please join us for the eighth annual gathering of the Chicago chapter of Friends of ATZUM: Providing direct assistance to survivors of terror in Israel


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

7:00 p.m.

at the home of Lisa and Todd Fishbein

833 Kimballwood Lane, Highland Park

Please RSVP to


We will be joined by

Rabbi Levi D. Lauer

Founding Executive Director, ATZUM


 Yael & Micha Hershkovitz

Terror and Beyond: Relentless Memory, Old Wounds and New Dreams


About Yael Hershkovitz

yael picYael Hershkovitz, a practicing attorney, was born in 1977 in Ashdod and grew up in Jerusalem. Her army service was completed in the Ministry of Defense.

In 2004, on her way to work, Yael was gravely injured in a central Jerusalem, terrorist bus bombing that murdered 11 Israelis and injured many more. Gravely wounded, Yael

suffered facial burns and severe head, hearing and sight injuries and other wounds. She endured a lengthy hospitalization and prolonged, difficult rehabilitation, which included repeated surgeries to reconstruct her scalp, improve her eyesight and hearing, and repair extensive facial scarring.

Less than a year after the attack, with incalculable courage and determination, Yael began her BA studies in law and, soon after passing the qualifying exams and internship, began her LLM. In 2011, she married Micha Hershkovitz. They are currently living in San Diego where Micha is studying for an MBA and where, during the past year, Yael underwent three additional surgeries related to her hearing injury.

 We are fortunate to have Yael and Micha as our guests to share their story.

Jewish Teens Confront the Evils of Prostitution

ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking’s Natasha Mann recently presented three talks about prostitution to Jewish teens.

Natasha’s topic was ‘Prostitution, Human Trafficking, and the Law’ at Noam Camp, an annual Jewish youth program. The first talk was aimed at a group of around 30 youth leaders, aged from seventeen upwards.

Afterwards, the leaders asked her to present talks to the two camps she worked with in France – one of which consisted of 14-year-olds, and the other of 15-year-olds. Each group consisted of around 60 teenagers.

“I was concerned that they were too young to process the subject, or to take it seriously,” Natasha remarked, “but they surprised me. They listened quietly, asked mature and thoughtful questions, and then many of them approached me afterwards to talk about it.”

Learn more about ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking.


New Year’s Amends for Israel’s Shameful Prostitution Record

The Jewish High Holidays are a time for reflection and making amends for past wrongs. 

In this spirit, ATZUM’s founder and director Rabbi Levi Lauer’s call for awareness and change to Israel’s attitude to prostitution was published in The Jerusalem Post this week.

“The bad news is that because of the unabated, enormous demand for paid sexual services (i.e. the rape and exploitation of sex slaves and prostituted persons), thousands of Israeli women, and girls as young as 13, are coerced by the ravages of poverty, incest and rape, and inhospitable homes and streets, into sexual servitude,” wrote Rabbi Lauer.

As well as laying down the facts about the wide extent of the problem, Rabbi Lauer also pointed the way to begin rectifying this shameful situation in the New Jewish Year.

“In this season of collective Jewish repentance, now is the time to put an end to this evil. Now is the time to support the legislation pending in the Knesset to criminalize the purchase of sexual services and decriminalize the provider of that dehumanization,” he wrote.

Read the full Jerusalem Post article here

TFHT Times of Israel Blog

The Task Force on Human Trafficking is pleased to announce the launch of its blog on the Times of Israel website. The blog deals with issues surrounding sex trafficking and prostitution, with a particular focus on the effect that they have in Israel. The blog will serve as a platform to engage the public. You can read the first post here to learn about the history of sex trafficking and prostitution in Israel. Stay tuned for more posts!

TFHT Co-Executive Director Rabbi Levi Lauer Presents at Limmud

ATZUM Founder and TFHT Co-Executive Director Rabbi Levi Lauer tells us that Limmud UK is a widely diverse, engaging and productive Jewish educational conference. His presentation on the Task Force’s work this past December was attended by tens of people who volunteered to help TFHT’s work after learning of its efforts.

Rabbi Lauer sought to better inform the attendees about the situation of prostitution and human trafficking in Israel and the necessity of non-government organization involvement to effect legislative change. In his discussion, Rabbi Lauer described the development of ATZUM’s work, beginning with raising awareness in Israel through media, then prioritizing the passage of progressive legislation encouraging the enforcement of existing anti-trafficking laws.

It was particularly important for Rabbi Lauer his talk convey that to love Israel is to confront the country’s most egregious problems, and that Jews from the Diaspora are of vital importance in pushing for change. “I think that more people are aware. Getting cooperation from the Diaspora is important. Every Jew in the world who cares about the destiny of the Jewish people should take this seriously.”

How Porn Creates the John

On December 19th the Task Force on Human Trafficking and the Lafer Center for Women and Gender Studies jointly hosted a lecture at Hebrew University. Professor Gail Dines presented How Porn Creates the John: Porn, Trafficking, and the Social Construction of Masculinity.

Professor Dines is a professor of Sociology and Women Studies at Wheelock College in Boston, MA. She is also the author of numerous articles and books, including Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality. Her lecture dealt with the ways in which the rising violence and misogyny within the porn industry increases the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking.

Since the lecture, the Task Force has received many requests for a video of the event. We are pleased to announce the lecture can be viewed in its entirety below.

Natasha Mann – Volunteer Profile

Natasha joined the Task Force in October as she settled into life in Jerusalem. She came to Israel as an ATZUM AGN Scholarship Recipient to study for the year at the Conservative Yeshiva. Her studies were in preparation for applying to rabbinical school, and we are pleased to announce her acceptance.

When Natasha joined the Task Force she was interested in volunteering but unsure of how her skills could best be used. After researching the sex trade, she began to work with Project 119, and she has been writing our weekly letters to MKs ever since. She has also taken on much of the behind-the-scenes work of Project 119, updating and reshaping our communications systems (collecting research, and recruiting and keeping in touch with volunteers).

Natasha relates her letter-writing skills have vastly improved since she began working with Project 119. “It was awkward at first,” she admits, “but the more I learned, the more passionate I became about the subject. Now I enjoy every week, as it gives me a new opportunity speak my mind about why the Prohibition of Consumption of Prostitution Services and Community Treatment Bill is so incredibly important.”

Tel Aviv Municipality Addresses Prostitution Advertisement

On February 14th the Task Force on Human Trafficking conducted a seminar for Tel- Aviv Municipality employees about the massive dissemination of business cards advertising prostitution in the city. These cards are strewn across nearly every sidewalk and auto windshield in Tel-Aviv. Although advertising sexual services in Israel is illegal, Tel-Aviv minors on bicycles are paid 100 shekels for every sack of business cards they spread across the city.

As stated by the Tel-Aviv Municipality, the purpose of the seminar was “…to gain a deep understanding of the problems and importance of this phenomenon.” The seminar included presentations from Gili Varon, Director of TFHT, Reut Guy of Elem/ Youth in Distress, and Neama Rivlin, the Executive Director of Saleet, a shelter that assists women who are exiting prostitution.

“There was a great spirit of cooperation at the seminar,” remarked Varon. “The Municipality and non-profits have finally come together to learn about and combat this phenomenon.”