Tag Archives: workshop

Building Bridges in the Middle East

It’s no secret that there is a lot of tension between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. However, stories about peaceful encounters and coexistence rarely make the headlines.

This month, El HaLev instructors taught a self-defense course to a group of Arab women from East Jerusalem. Since most of the staff does not speak Arabic, they used a translator.

The following quotes were said by the women at the course graduation:

“Before this course I never dared to walk alone. Not anywhere at any time. I was just too afraid. Today I walk alone and feel confident and strong. How liberating!”

“At first I was embarrassed to work with men in the room, but after the first day I understood how tremendously important it was for us to fight against a realistic attacker. I thank the men so much for giving us this gift.”

Thank you for giving me permission to say NO and teaching me to use it with strength and purpose.”

The volunteer assistant shared this:

Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, the women remind me a lot of the Jewish women I took the course with at El HaLev two years ago. They’re in denial, but at the same time, curious. Shy but daring. I feel that the similarities by far outweigh the differences.

I came to IMPACT after I was attacked by an Arab man in my neighborhood. I survived the attack, but like most victims, awaited his return. IMPACT helped me feel my strength and realize my true abilities.

And now, here I am surrounded by shouts in Arabic, the very words which failed me when it mattered most. But soon I learned to shout the way I didn’t know back then.

The level of trust, intimacy and friendship between the women and the team of instructors has helped me, more than anything, to renew my own trust in mankind. There were moments in which we glimpsed that perhaps, under different circumstances, we could have been friends.

Teaching self-defense to women from east Jerusalem  serves as a reminder for what we stand for: empowering women, regardless of age, color, size, nationality or political background. The first step to fighting violence against women is accepting that every woman deserves to know how to defend herself. When we focus on our similarities rather than our differences, we find that we are not alone.

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Filed under IMPACT, Violence Prevention, Women Empowerment

Personal Boundaries: If I Don’t Respect Them, Who Will?

Boundaries: If I don't respect them, who will?

To respect your own boundaries you need to know what they are.  They need to be an intimate part of your personality. They must have shape, form and content. If we wait until they are tested it is significantly more difficult to act. Why? Because personal boundaries are confusing and they are not built of stone. They are built by conviction.

Last Tuesday night I found myself standing in front of a lovely group of about 30 religious high school girls in Gedera. My goal: Convince them to sign up for the self defense course starting next week.

You might think that in 15 years of teaching self-defense, I would get into a routine of how I teach a class. However, I am amazed at how each time I run an introductory self-defense workshop it’s different.

I must thank the Simpsons for providing new meaning to the term “Krav Maga” as I found myself Kiai-ing  like Lisa Simpson every time a verbal strategy became a need for a strike. The girls had been told that I was going to be teaching Krav Maga (Oops – I am a Judo Teacher…)

Somehow even after years of working with this very progressive school, which is one of the few girls’ schools that officially requests a self-defense course for their students, I was stumped. “They just don’t get it!”

I decided to try setting a different goal: get them to understand why El HaLev’s Self Defense is different from others, and how essential it is to learn.

After an hour of scenarios and demonstrations of different types of responses to different levels of attacks, it dawned on me. One sentence came out of my mouth that made it so intensely clear why I had driven to Gedera for a one hour intro.

If you do not respect your own boundaries, how can you expect anyone else to?

Take a minute today. Show respect to your personal boundaries by getting to know them. Allow them to take form and to exist within your consciousness and not be some far away relative you only think about when someone mentions them.

Yudit Sensei

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Filed under Violence Prevention, Women Empowerment

What Is Wrong With Being A Little Boastful?!

Last night I taught a self defense workshop. Now, that is nothing new, but what is new is that I had a epiphany.

I have said many times that the first step in learning self defense is to accept that you are worth defending. If you do not believe that basic premise, you will have a super hard time standing up for yourself. To me this is just plain and simple.

So, I handed my lovely unsuspecting students white El HaLev T-shirts and told them that they needed to write on the back of the shirt “I’m [blank]” and that the blank had to be positive. The group consisted of pairs of mom’s and daughters and their two social workers. Some of them wrote “I’m strong!” “I’m pretty!” “I’m independant!” and neither of the social workers wrote anything. I prodded them a little…… but nothing…..but a blush…..

Driving home I was thinking to myself, what is it about accepting that we are good at something that is embarrassing. I had done this exercise before with 6th grade girls and of course there were a bunch of them who wouldn’t do it but I figured….teenagers….. so I ran this past a few of my staff today and one of them said to me, “Oh, I wouldn’t do that.” “Why?” I asked. “Well, it is boastful” she answered. “What’s wrong with that?” That’s the real question. What is wrong with that!? What is wrong with being a little boastful.

A memory arises of the great question of how could Moses be the epitomy of humility when he himself writes that there will never be a greater prophet than Moses. The answer, and here I cannot give a source, other than to say I know there is one 🙂 , is that humility is not about what you are but rather knowing where it came from. Moses knew that his gifts were from G-d. I know that my gifts are from G-d. Therefore, saying I am smart isn’t boastful, it is acknowledging who I am. And so what if it is boastful! I think that there is a huge difference between acknowledging who you are, lifting yourself up and putting others down. That’s where being boastful can go bad. To me it is simple common sense that it is no ones job to believe in me more than I believe in myself. I am smart! I am capable! I am me!

Now, go get a white T-shirt. Put your “I’m [blank]!!!” on it and wear it for a day. Then tell me how it felt 🙂

That's me being a little boastful

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Filed under Violence Prevention, Women Empowerment, Yudit Sidikman