‘Women to Go’ Makes Its International Debut

On July 1, ‘Women to Go’ made its debut in North America. The Task Force on Human Trafficking with the help of event organizer, Phyllis Nutkis, brought the campaign to Evanston, Illinois. Women to Go forcefully confronts society with the evils of trafficking and prostitution by exposing these underground crimes in a public space. During a Women to Go event, women with price tags are placed in a storefront as if for sale, while volunteers explain the demonstration to passersby.

The event in Evanston focused on Backpage, a classified advertising site with an adult section. “There’s a tremendous number of ads that look like they’re for individual women offering their services, but really most of those are placed by pimps,” explained Phyllis. At the event, Phyllis and her volunteers collected 609 signatures on a petition urging Backpage to discontinue advertisements for sexual services.

The event was hosted by Williams Next Door, a small family owned women’s boutique. In addition to providing TFHT with the space, Williams Next Door also donated 10% of their sales that day to the campaign. Zoe Lembeck, one of the store’s owners, explained, “As soon as we heard about this, we jumped at the chance to be a part of it. We loved the creative presentation along with the informative and pragmatic side of it. Being part of this event feels exciting and relevant as a woman, and as a business owner.”

Although Phyllis hails from Chicago, she is one of TFHT’s most active volunteers. In addition to staging Women to Go Phyllis is also a lobbyist for Project 119. Phyllis credits her family who “…were always fighting for social justice,” with making social action an integral part of her everyday life. “I’ve been hearing about ATZUM’s work for years, and it’s inspiring. I always wanted to be a part of what ATZUM does, and this was something I could do.”

Organizing the event was at times challenging, though Phyllis maintains the “right person with the right skills would find it manageable.” She explains, “The rewards are many – meeting and working with dedicated, interesting, passionate volunteers; learning all kinds of new skills you didn’t know you had; and most of all knowing that you’ve done something really good and important in the world.”

If you are inspired by Phyllis’ success and want to contribute to the fight against human trafficking, host a Women-to-Go event in your community. To find out more, please e-mail Rebecca.


The Task Force on Human Trafficking debuted as Women to Go in Tel Aviv in October 2010.  The daylong event considerably raised public awareness about proposed legislation to criminalize the purchase of sexual services in Israel. Shalmor-Avnon-Amichay/Y&R, an Israeli advertising agency, designed the campaign for TFHT. The success of the Tel-Aviv event inspired TFHT to export Women to Go to different cities.

Call to Action: Help Us Launch the ‘Jewish Tooth Fairy Fund’

Allow us to introduce you to the ‘Jewish Tooth Fairy Fund,’ ATZUM’s newest initiative.  The project is focused on providing a full range of dental services to Israeli survivors of terror attacks and their families who cannot afford the treatments and have no access to dental insurance.  Survivors of terror attacks often require dental intervention as a result of their injuries.  Additionally, many terror survivors who have reached advanced age require dentures they cannot afford, while those of any age often have teeth negatively affected by their long stays in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities and suffer pain and poor self-image as a result.

In each of these cases, ATZUM serves as an address to which these individuals can turn for financial and practical assistance in obtaining the dental care they so urgently require. However, we need your help to make the Jewish Tooth Fairy Fund a reality. [Read more…]

SAVE THE DATE: ‘Women To Go’ Chicago

In October 2010, TFHT staged the first ‘Women To Go’ live installation in Tel-Aviv to raise public awareness about sex trafficking and garner support for legislation to criminalize the purchase of sexual services.  Israel’s Women To Go campaign drew much local and international attention and was highlighted by Israeli news coverage and a feature on CNN. 

Chicago’s installation will take place Sunday, July 1, at Williams Next Door, 706 Church St. in Evanston, Illinois.  The specific call to action will be a petition to pressure Village Voice Media, owners of Backpage.com to discontinue their “adult” services section, the largest venue in the U.S. for trafficking of women and girls.  You can sign the petition here.

The Women-to-Go Campaign features women posing “for sale” in a display window, complete with price tags and detailed specifications such as age, weight, and measurements. Volunteers explain the display to onlookers and circulate petitions.

The problem of sex trafficking is not isolated in a few faraway countries.  It is a global issue affecting us all. Join us on July 1 in raising public awareness of this flagrant violation of the most basic of human rights.  Together we can put an end to this brutal form of modern slavery.

SAVE THE DATE: 7th Annual Chicago Gathering to Benefit Israeli Survivors of Terror

On Wednesday evening, May 30, the Chicago chapter of Friends of ATZUM will host their 7th annual gathering to benefit Israeli Survivors of Terror.  The event will include presentations by ATZUM’s founding executive director, Rabbi Levi Lauer, as well as Evyatar Alush, a 21 year-old Israeli security professional who was caught in a terror attack with his family in the Israeli city of Ariel at the age of 6.

Evyatar will discuss the death of his father in the attack, the physical and emotional scars born by his mother, his path through pain and poverty to success in high school and the Israeli Defense Forces, his refusal to play the role of victim and his experiences volunteering as a counselor for terror victims and their children.

Every dollar raised from the event will be distributed to Israeli survivors of terror attacks or used to provide their families with desperately-needed educational resources.

For more information, please contact Gila.



Student Exhibit: “The Light in the Darkness” – The Story of the Boissevain Family, Righteous Among the Nations

The Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa was founded in 1938 as a kindergarten for German children fleeing Nazi Germany. Today, the Leo Baeck Education Center is a flourishing campus with over 2,000 students from varied backgrounds.

Three years ago, ATZUM helped a group of students at the Center initiate a research study into the remarkable and heroic acts of the Van Hall and Boissevain families from Amsterdam during World War II – several family members were recognized by the State of Israel as being the Righteous Among the Nation.

The end result of their research is a remarkable exhibition entitled “The Light in the Darkness,” which includes documents and items from the Yad Vashem and Lohamei Hagetaot Museums (as well as other exhibits), testimonies and findings, that tell the story of bravery, compassion and humanity in Holland during the dark period of World War II.

The opening ceremony for the exhibition will be held on May 21 at 18:00 at the Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa.

A Message From Levi Lauer: A Step Forward

The February 12 unanimous vote of the Knesset Ministerial Committee, and the Knesset’s first reading vote on February 15 approving legislation criminalizing the purchase of sexual services, are a victory for all who seek to free Israel from the evils of sex trafficking and the degradation of women and children. The message is clear: human bodies are no longer for sale in an enlightened society; trafficking in sexual services and prostitution are no longer legitimate enterprises on our streets; clients who rape sex slaves and make women and children the victims of their perverse power are criminals.

I celebrate this decision with MK Orit Zuaretz who advanced the legislation; with MK Zahava Galon who laid foundations for this effort in the Knesset; with Minister of Education Gidon Saar who through many political thickets supported these efforts; with many organizations and volunteers who brought this measure to wider attention; and above all with the staff members of ATZUM, Kabiri-Nevo-Keidar, and the Task Force on Human Trafficking who coordinated the information, legal and lobbying campaigns that brought us to this day. As MK Zuaretz noted in her Knesset address, ATZUM led this legislative and enforcement struggle.

We are also grateful to you, the supporters of ATZUM and our partners in this success. 

But make no mistake, there is still much to be done, and we require your continued support to ensure that the Knesset and enforcement and judicial agencies use their authority to arrest, prosecute and punish the pimps, traffickers and clients who have too long turned our neighborhoods into comfortable environments for the brothels and slave pens that are our shame and disgrace. A new day is dawning, and I thank all of ATZUM’s friends for letting that light in and working to expand the spectrum of its impact on Israeli society.

With gratitude,
Levi Lauer
Founding Executive Director

SUCCESS! – On the Way To Criminalizing the Purchase of Sexual Services in Israel

Addressing social justice issues in Israel is not easy. There is always something “more serious” to deal with. Security usually trumps all. However, something changed with this past summer’s national social justice protests. The topic of conversation shifted. Suddenly, there were serious issues on the table that did not have to do with security or war. There was room to talk about education, child care and public health. It was finally possible to discuss our goals and aspirations for our society.  The seeds planted over the summer bore fruit last week, when Israel moved one step closer to joining the ranks of countries working towards ridding our world of modern day slavery in one of its most globally pervasive forms: sex trafficking and prostitution.

On a global scale, countries are more open to discussing measures to prevent human trafficking. Part of these efforts involve finding ways to decrease prostitution – a form of violence and degradation against women and children, many of whom have been trafficked. As Israel evolves and grows, and as global attention to this issue intensifies – spurred on by North-South, wide-spread socio-economic disparities, in addition to endemic war and the emerging phenomena of climate change – we are forced to deal with immigration and, therefore, with human trafficking. Today, Israel has a staggering 15,000 women working in the prostitution industry, an estimated 5,000 of whom are minors.  

For eight years now, ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking has worked to eradicate modern day slavery. Together with Israeli law office Kabiri-Nevo-Keidar, we aim to engage the public and government agencies to confront and eradicate modern slavery in Israel, and lobby for reform in the areas of prevention, border closure, protection of escaped women, and prosecution of traffickers and pimps.

To this end, we put together the Women-To-Go campaign, a powerful portrayal of prostitution in which women stood in store windows as objects to be purchased; organized CREATE, a conference for religious educators on trafficking and exploitation; and launched Project 119, a volunteer lobbying effort whereby individuals were assigned to members of Knesset to lobby for legislation proposing the criminalization of the purchase of sexual services.

On Sunday, February 12, 2012, the Ministerial Legislation Committee of the Israeli Knesset passed this legislation dealing a blow to the ‘supply chain’ for sexual services in Israel and setting in place a proven deterrent (in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland and most recently France) for human trafficking and prostitution. This decision represents a huge victory for Israel. The Israeli government made a statement that human beings are not for sale in our society, and that trafficking in sexual services is no longer a legitimate enterprise on our streets.  Most importantly, women who are in this industry, will know that the Israeli government is no longer turning a blind eye to their suffering and has resolved to put an end to this societal malady.

Kayla Zecher
Projects Coordinator for ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking

International Demonstrations to Criminalize Purchase of Sexual Services in Israel – February 5, 2012

ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT) is organizing demonstrations in Jerusalem, New York, London, and Washington, DC, to put international pressure on Israel to criminalize the purchase of sexual services.

The demonstrations outside of Israel will take place on Sunday, February 5, 2012 at 11:00 AM EST outside each city’s respective Israeli Consulate building.

The Jerusalem demonstration will take place several hours (at 11:00 AM GMT) outside the Knesset in the square from the Ministry of Finance.

To learn how you can get involved, please contact:

If you interested in organizing a demonstration in your city, please contact Rebecca.


***Please take a moment to sign and send a letter to Members of Knesset encouraging them criminalize sex slavery in Israel.***


Tribute To Newly-Identified ‘Righteous Gentile’ At Unique Student Ceremony

On Friday, December 9, ATZUM honored newly-identified “Righteous Among the Nations” Klavdia Likholetova, for her heroism and selflessness in saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust, at a special ceremony at the Eylon School in Holon.

Likholetova, who passed away in 2003 in Bat Yam, was represented by her husband, Iliya Leiberman, at the student-run ceremony arranged by ATZUM and the Eylon school staff.  Likholetova was recently recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations.  Leiberman accepted the certificate and medal on her behalf.

“It is vitally important that we honor the memory of each of these courageous rescuers, exceptional individuals who provided light in an era of unparalleled darkness and a moral compass to a lost generation,” said Rabbi Levi Lauer, Founding Executive Director of ATZUM. 

“We believe it is only fitting to celebrate Klavdia’s life with the children of Holon, the third generation of Jews she has a hand in saving and those she chose to make her neighbors later in life.”

In November 1941, Klavdia and her parents, Olga and Ivan, took in Maria Dawes, and her daughter Yekaterina, two Jews who were left homeless and penniless after a failed offensive by the Russian Red Army.  Though the Likholetova family home in the Ukrainian port city of Feodosiya was small and cramped, and they were in mortal danger for harboring Jews, they willingly hid and cared for Maria and Yekaterina for over two months.

Like more than 130 other rescuers, Klavdia chose to deepen her solidarity with the Jewish people following World War II and took up residence in Israel in 1998.  Her story remained a well-kept secret until recently. 

At the ceremony, opening remarks were made by Ronit Haimov, principal of the Eylon School; Miri Moshkowitz, the teacher who worked with ATZUM to organize the ceremony; and Yael Rosen, coordinator of ATZUM’s Righteous Among The Nations Project. The students then told the story of the Likholetova family, screened a presentation that they prepared with pictures of the family, read Haim Heffer’s poem on Righteous Among the Nations and sang a musical tribute to rescuers.

It was not clear until the last moment if Mr. Leiberman, who is in very poor health, would be able to attend the ceremony.  In the end, he not only attended but pooled his strength in order to stand and sing Hatikvah at the end of the ceremony with the students.  Following the ceremony, Russian speaking students approached Mr. Leiberman to thank him for coming and express how much Klavdia’s sacrifice meant to them.

Levi Lauer Discusses the Task Force on Human Trafficking at Brandeis

On Tuesday, September 13, 2011, Levi Lauer, Founding Executive Director of ATZUM, spoke at Brandeis University on the topic of “When Hope Ends in Slavery: Human Trafficking in Israel.” He discussed sex slavery and the trafficking crisis in Israel in general and the tactics employed by ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT) to combat these egregious violations of human rights.

The event, which took place in the University’s Rapaporte Treasure Hall, was hosted by the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and the Schusterman Center for Israeli Studies, and was co-sponsored by the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute; the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life; the Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies Program; the Social Justice & Social Policy Program; the Women’s and Gender Studies Program; and the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.

Prof. Ilan Troen, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, delivered the opening remarks during which he introduced Rabbi Lauer as an “unusual and exceptional individual who blends the vision of a utopia with an energetic activist who is prepared to engage in unwelcome realities.” Florence Graves, the Founding Director of the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism was very pleased with the turnout and the considerable and intense interest generated by the topic. She noted, “Rabbi Lauer is a wonderfully eloquent speaker, and I think he has made a huge impact here at Brandeis.”