An American born Israeli, Ruthy has been working for EFRAT since February 2001. Ruthy’s Israeli passion and determination, blends with her laid-back American warmth, making her a compassionate listener and highly effective at her job. In the autumn of 2000, Ruthy was living in the Shomron when the Intifada began making the local area extremely dangerous. Following the birth of their first grandchild, Ruthy and her husband moved to Jerusalem and Ruthy put feelers out for a job in her field.
Simultaneously Dr. Eli Schussheim, president of EFRAT, realized that his organization was growing and he wanted to ensure a high level of professionalism. He began his search for a social worker to head the department by calling Jerusalem’s deputy mayor for a recommendation. Word of mouth had brought Ruthy’s name to the deputy mayor’s desk and when interviewed at EFRAT, Ruthy was instantly well-regarded and offered the job.
In previous social work roles, Ruthy had often experienced frustration at having such limited scope to help expectant mothers, who faced the critical decision to keep or terminate their pregnancy against a complex backdrop of issues. She had always wished she had the tools to help expand their options.
Ruthy recalled that on the 4th February 2001, the day that she started as EFRAT’s social worker, 199 women were registered on the computerized system. Today, there are tens of thousands of names on the database. The organization has developed exponentially.
Ruthy is proud of the current level of professionalism within the organization. All volunteers are trained and supervised to ensure that they practice to a high standard, following clear guidelines. They are up to date about women’s rights and highly aware of the importance of maintaining boundaries and confidentiality.
This job has been a learning curve, Ruthy explained. Through conversations with thousands of women over the years, she has developed insight into the psychological repercussions of ending a pregnancy. Many women have carried out a termination in the past and approach EFRAT in the desperate attempt to avoid another one. Ruthy has also honed her public speaking skills, as she often represents EFRAT on television and radio.
Ruthy explained that when she talks to the women who turn to EFRAT, she encourages them to follow their heart. She believes in empowering women so that they can make their own choice, from a position of understanding their options fully.
This job involves constant feedback. Ruthy recalled one radio interview where an unidentified woman who had been supported by EFRAT, was brought onto the live show. The young woman told her story on air. She described how she had initially called EFRAT with her cousin’s encouragement. Swiftly put into contact with a volunteer, she vacillated between keeping the baby and ending the pregnancy. She was confused and told the volunteer not to call her again; she could not face discussing it. She would call the volunteer back if she wanted help. In full adherence with EFRAT’s guidelines, the volunteer did not make further contact. A week later, having made her decision to keep the baby, the young woman called back. Ruthy described her pleasure in hearing the story, a testimony to the training and professionalism of EFRAT’s volunteers.
When asked what aspect of EFRAT’s help she feels has the biggest impact, Ruthy paused for thought. She concluded that it is the combination of a relationship with an EFRAT volunteer, together with the assurance of practical assistance, which makes support meaningful.