There is a place in Tel Aviv that most visitors would prefer to avoid, and it clashes with their image of the “holy land”. In the heart of the city, not far from the old bus station, is an area ruled by drug dealers, homeless addicts and victims of prostitution.
WOMEN IN THE DARK STREETS OF TEL AVIV
Tel Aviv is a high-paced business hub of Israel. It is one of the leading cities (globally) in technological innovations. The beautiful coast and good universities attract young people from Israel and abroad. It gives the metropolis a trendy vibe.
And yet, there is more outside of this sunny picture.
Setting foot in the red light district in Tel Aviv means facing the tragic reality of women who were forced into prostitution or turned to it out of desperation. In a place like this, it is hard to find hope.
The area is home to brothels and drug hangouts, dealers and crime. Many women have long abandoned the dream of leading a free and comfortable life.
HOW TO BRING LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS?
Years ago, an Israeli couple, Ishai and Anat, were moved to take action against abortion. Abortion is very prevalent in Israel, so the couple wanted to provide practical help to troubled mothers. But soon they discovered that this issue is much more complicated than they realized.
And when one takes up the challenge of standing against abortion, it is impossible to detach it from its complexities.
Anat and Ishai discovered that unwanted pregnancies are strongly linked with the issue of human trafficking. The city of Tel Aviv that they knew and loved was breaking their hearts. They knew what they had to do, despite the dangers and risks of such work…
They wanted to reach out to women in Tel Aviv controlled by mafia and human traffickers.
Ishai and Anat started an organization called Chaim Beshefa (Hebrew for ‘Abundant Life’). The mission of Chaim Beshefa is clear and straightforward. They desire to show every woman they serve that she is a daughter of the King.
LITTLE STEPS LEADING TO GREAT IMPACT
The ball really started rolling when Anat got a phone call from a social worker in Tel Aviv. The social worker asked Anat to meet and care for a victim of sex trafficking from Uzbekistan. The woman in need was also a drug addict and just gave birth to a child she could not support.
Anat and the team quickly moved from helping a few women to helping dozens every week. As they were reaching out to the women in prostitution in Tel Aviv, they wanted to make them feel worthy, respected, and cherished.
What started as an attempt to save unborn babies, turned into saving women’s souls. Through counseling and practical help, Chaim Beshefa was gaining trust in Tel Aviv’s toughest neighborhood.
And then, God gave Anat a new dream. “What if we started a beauty salon for the women living in the streets of Tel Aviv?” she thought.
BEAUTY FOR ASHES FOR WOMEN IN TEL AVIV
With help from believers in Israel and worldwide, Anat’s vision became reality. The center, ingeniously named “Red Carpet Nail Center,” offers manicures, pedicures and hairstyling free of charge.
But more importantly, it is a safe space for the women to enjoy a hot meal, take a shower and receive counseling. In more ways than one, it meets practical needs of women who want nothing more than to regain their dignity.
Men are not allowed inside, so even Ishai, Anat’s husband, does not enter the center during its opening hours. Instead, he often guards the entrance. At Red Carpet, the women can escape their weary lives, even if for a moment.
Local and international volunteers show them care and readily offer to pray with them, too.
THE PURE DEFINITION OF SERVING
The ultimate goal of the “salon” is to help these women experience true breakthrough and taste a better life. It sounds simple, but there is nothing easy about the strive for it. And so, the love Anat, her staff and volunteers have for these women is extraordinary. And humbling.
Many of the women that frequent the center have been victims of abuse. But here, they feel loved and cared for. And aside from being a haven, at the salon they can also hear a message of hope and salvation.
“The idea is to serve them, first of all, and then to help them go to rehabilitation centers, to see redemption in every way in their lives. That’s the hope!” said Anat, who hugs and serves these battered women right alongside her volunteers.
HOPE FOR AT-RISK WOMEN IN TEL AVIV
With the atmosphere of overwhelming kindness and acceptance that fills the Red Carpet Center, it is no surprise that their hands are full. Thanks to generous support, the salon was able to move out from their small room in a basement to a bigger and brighter location.
The current space is double the size of the old one. After renovations, it looks more inviting than ever and truly feels like a salon. And this is just another step in how Chaim Beshefa delivers on their promise. They want dignity and hope for those they are helping.
One of the women that received counseling and help at the Red Carpet salon was Eden (name changed). Anat and some volunteers encouraged her to revive her dreams, and they prayed together regularly.
Today Eden has an office job and received government assistance for housing. What is more, her story is inspiring other women who visit Red Carpet in Tel Aviv as well! With help from Chaim Beshefa, they once again have hope.
HELP BRING GOOD NEWS & TRANSFORM LIVES
Are you looking to make a difference in Israel, and help bring the Good News to the land? You’re invited to join in God’s plans for His people!
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