IFCJ and its faithful supporters has long helped Israel's at-risk young people work toward successful lives in the Holy Land. One of these ways, featured in this Jerusalem Post piece by Benjamin Glatt, is by providing homes for these youth as they prepare for and serve in the IDF:
For at-risk youth living in youth villages, the gap months, or even gap year, between the end of high school and enrolling in the Israel Defense Forces is a critical junction in the lives of these teenagers.
On most occasions these young men and women have been forced out of their homes, or have lost contact with their parents, or come from a low socioeconomic background.
After graduating from the youth village, though, there is a clear change in the youths’ perspective. The students want to continue in their new life. They want to maintain the direction, values and principles they learned while enrolled in the youth villages, which helped build them up, support them and prepare them for leading a regular, routine life.
But without a little more help, they can easily return to the ways of their past, moving from home to home, forced to work in all sorts of jobs, not knowing what the future holds, day in, day out.
In light of this need, and seeing the great desire these future leaders have to contribute to society, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews began the program “Friendship Houses,” letting at-youth risk stay in their youth village in preparation for, and during, their army or national service.
“If there won’t be continuity in their treatment after they’re 18, the chances of at-risk youth building a good future for themselves is very small, and there’s a great danger that they’ll fall back into the same troubles that their parents were in,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the Fellowship. “For the good of all society, the government and organizations in the non-profit sector must come up with more and more solutions, such as this project.”
The eight new Friendship Houses, designed and planned by expert architects, and which are stationed in youth villages across the country, include an air conditioner, an accessorized kitchen, a spacy living room, four furnished bedrooms, electronic appliances and, of course, a safe room shelter for protection against missiles and biological and chemical warfare...