CHW Weekly Stories

Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW)

Dalia Loves to Dance

Story taken from World WIZO, The WIZO Impact, Issue No. 6
*Name changed for confidentiality  

Dalia* loves to dance. Whenever she hears music, she jumps from her chair and sways her body as graceful as a swan. “She wants to be a ballerina,” Dalia’s mother explained, her eyes glistening with pride, “And I will move heaven and earth for her to fulfill her dreams.”

It was not so long ago that such aspirations would have been unthinkable. Dalia’s mother looks wistful as she recalls how she had wrapped her petrified six-year-old daughter and her two-year-old son in blankets and bundled them into the taxi in the middle of the night.

A social worker accompanied them on a long journey to the WIZO women’s shelter in Ashdod, far away from her violent husband’s reach and far away from their home, which had become the unhappiest, most dangerous place on earth.

For long days, Dalia cowered in the corner of the room she shared with her mother and brother at the shelter, her body shaking in fear. In the middle of the night, the screams of her nightmares pierced the silence as the women in the shelter who had been released from their own nightmares finally slept soundly in their beds.

The child psychologist who worked with the children at the women’s shelter was very gentle in her approach to Dalia, letting the child open up to her at her own pace. She worked with Dalia on a one-to-one basis, quietly obtaining her trust. The breakthrough came when Dalia timidly reached out and took the cute little teddy bear that the child psychologist offered her. Dalia hugged it tightly to her chest, and asked timidly, “Can I keep it?” As the psychologist explained, “Of course, we treat the mother and her children. The children generally cannot process the atrocities that they have witnessed, particularly when one loved parent attacks the other. We, as grownups, cannot accept it, so can you imagine the emotional damage this has on an innocent child?

With patience and sensitivity, Dalia’s fragile confidence was restored by the child psychologists and the social workers who drew out painful truths and encouraged the child to focus on what she liked to do, what made her smile. Through music and movement, Dalia was able to express her feelings, and this paved the way for the soothing therapies that empowered this little girl to let go of her fear and the dark emotions that had always clouded her young life.

After their time spent in the WIZO women’s shelter, the family have healed and moved on. Dalia’s mother has returned to work equipped with new skills and new self-worth, her little boy is in a WIZO Daycare and Dalia attends school. Every week, Dalia attends ballet class, and according to her tutor, she has real talent.

Dalia is just one of thousands of children who, along with their mothers, have been both protected and empowered by their time spent in WIZO shelters.

These are all children who have either witnessed or been subject to a variety of damaging behaviors and abuse, resulting in deep-seeded psychological and emotional trauma. The main goal of the shelters is to provide a safe haven where they prepare the mothers and children for an independent and violence-free life. To this end, the shelters provide group and individual therapies as well as tutoring to assist in any lack in studies. Mothers receive legal aid, therapies for mind, body and soul as well as crucial job training – and the children receive what every child deserves – a childhood far removed from harm.


Story taken from THE WIZO IMPACT (removed some details to make suitable for CHW)


From the moment he was born, Tal* suffered the agony of narcotic withdrawal. His mother had used Heroin all through her pregnancy and Tal displayed classic signs of NAD (narcotic abstinence syndrome). His symptoms included tremors, poor feeding, breathing issues, irritability, fever, low muscle tone, and stiffness.

At the age of four months, Tal was referred by the welfare authorities to a WIZO Daycare. He had severe mental and motor development issues. Tal was a very sad baby. In the early days in WIZO’s care, Tal would lay rigid in his cot with a pained expression. Tears ran down his cheeks and yet he barely had the strength to cry. Unlike the other babies, he did not kick his legs or arms. He did not respond to heat, cold or hunger and no matter how much the caregivers tried to raise a smile from him none was forthcoming, and as the other babies began to sit up, and to crawl, Tal lay still. The daycare director, Maya*, nursed Tal and he began to eat. She spoke softly to him, and carried him around the nursery pointing out everything in an attempt to coax a reaction. She said that he was just like a rag doll in her arms. Maya explained: “Tal required a comprehensive treatment regime to stimulate his cognitive and motor senses. It is between the ages of four months to twelve months that mental and motor-sensory deficiencies surface and this is the time when treatment becomes crucial. We worked tirelessly, together with therapists, to stimulate movement and strengthen his flaccid muscles and bouts of limb stiffness. You would always find me sitting in my office massaging his little arms and legs while doing other jobs. Tal taught me to multi-task!

Eventually, the weak and fretful baby began to put weight on. He started to respond to treatment and caught up with many of the other babies. The perseverance of the day care staff paid off. When Tal took his first steps, the entire daycare erupted in applause. Tal’s grandmother who looks after him witnessed that memorable event. “When he toddled towards me, with a big smile on his face, it was the happiest day of my life. I have endured so much heartache with my daughter in and out of rehab, I volunteer at the daycare, helping to feed the babies at meal times. It keeps me from thinking about my own problems, and now, for the first time, I can see that Tal has a chance to look forward to a happy and healthy future. I have WIZO to thank for that,” Said Tal’s grandmother.

Caregiver, Sigal, added, “Oh but you should see him now! We call him ‘Tal hatotach’ (Tal the cannonball). He never sits still; he is full of energy. He is such a bright, inquisitive child.” Maya adds, “I am often asked if it is difficult to work in a daycare where the needs of the local population are so great. It is true to say that we fight a battle for the children in our care on a daily basis but I would not have it any other way. Seeing Tal, and the other little children like him running around the playground laughing and smiling makes it all worthwhile.”

Tal is not the only baby at a WIZO Daycare whose earliest years have been blighted by circumstances and the life choices forced upon them by their parents. He is one of many who have been referred by the welfare services. “We don’t differentiate,” said Maya, “It doesn’t matter how difficult their backgrounds are. What matters to us is that these children get the same start in life as every other child so that they are equipped to face whatever the future holds. Life is not easy but why should they suffer? In our care, they thrive, they get home cooked nutritious meals, they play, they learn and they are safe. They get remedial treatments when needed and of course all the love and hugs that every child deserves.”

*Names changed for confidentiality

Link to original article:

Tal’s Story

During her pregnancy, Tal’s husband, Yoni emerged from prison more violent than before. An 18 year old bride in an arranged marriage in Iran, Tal found herself alone with a violent husband when her family left the country to escape the revolution.

At 37, Tal escaped to Israel with her 4 children, aged 4-17. Yoni followed her and started drinking, becoming more violent and self-harming in front of the children. The police and social services became aware or the situation and sent Tal and her children to a WIZO Shelter.

The expertise of WIZO professionals helped Tal find her strength and care for her children. During her 8 month stay at the shelter, Tal started working at a WIZO daycare where she has been for 17 years. Tal found an apartment and the confidence to move on with her life. Her children have been to university and the army, and like their mother, are happy and contributing citizens.

For nearly 100 years, CHW supports World WIZO and Shelters for Battered Women; helping to ensure women are protected, advocate for their rights, and instill a sense of hope within women in need.

Tal’s story illustrates the critical impact Israel and WIZO Shelters have on people’s lives. Israel provided a place of refuge for Tal and her children, allowing her to escape persecution and danger in her native country. She and her children were absorbed and their needs were taken care of by the state, helping them to enter a shelter that enabled this family to have a second chance at life. 

(Story originally from World WIZO. Tal’s name has been changed for confidentiality)

President’s Award of Excellence

Annually, the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, honours soldiers and officers with the highly esteemed President’s Award of Excellence that awards soldiers for their devotion to duty and professionalism.  

President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, at the Awards Ceremony

120 recipients were recognized; among them were three graduates from the dormitories of CHW Hadsssim Children and Youth Village: Paulina Rodkovsky, Dan Golan, and David Svilder.

Paulina Rodkovsky

Paulina grew up in the dormitories at CHW Hadassim. While Paulina was born without her right arm, she always sought to have a typical life like her peers. At CHW Hadassim, she was always encouraged to pursue her dreams and overcome any challenges that would come her way. Paulina fought to join a prestigious unit in the IDF and wanted to serve the same service as her fellow citizens in spite of her physical disabilities. Today, Paulina serves in an elite unit and has received the highest honour from President Rivlin.

Dan Golan

Dan received this award for the second consecutive year. Dan’s mother passed away when he was a little boy and he spent the early years of his childhood living in Be’er Sheva with his father, sister, and grandmother. His home environment was very difficult and so when Dan was eight years old, he arrived to CHW Hadassim. He first lived in the Family Unit and then in the dormitories. Dan shares, “CHW Hadassim made me the person I am today. I am a leader, I possess initiative, I am responsible, and this is all thanks to CHW Hadassim.” Today, Dan is part of the Israeli Northern Command. Dan shared, “Receiving the award was an honour and emotional; it was seeing all my hard work come to life.”

David Svilder

David is a Captain in the Golani Brigade. David arrived to CHW Hadassim without parents and in need of a loving home. Here, at CHW Hadassim he grew into a happy and confident young man. David knew he wanted to give back to his country and fought to join the Golani Brigade.  

This is an exceptional achievement for each of these soldiers, CHW Hadassim, and Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW). Through your support, you nurtured these children at CHW Hadassim and helped to create the next generation of leaders who will contribute positively to the State of Israel.