I tell the women I work with that ─

in order to repair the world, we need to take care of ourselves too.

─ Olga Krasko, Project Kesher Program Director, Polotsk, Belarus

Women's Health & Well-Being

According to a Russian Life magazine survey, Russians report that  after inflation, inaccessible medical care is the most pressing and still growing social problem in Russia today. 

Project Kesher provides year-round health education to women in all the countries in our network, on issues from pre-natal care to death.  This curriculum is designed to motivate women to take preventative actions and get treatment.

We link Jewish texts to the imperative to stay healthy, and we provide advocacy training to empower women to get their health needs met in their communities.  We engage our many interfaith partners to advocate for government allocation of resources to women’s diagnosis and treatment.

HIV/AIDS

With the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS population outside of Africa, Ukraine remains tentative in its efforts to educate its population about this disease. Project Kesher women's groups are actively engaged in raising awareness and initiating programs to prevent AIDS from spreading.

Project Kesher served as the official Jewish community and one of the most vocal of all faith community voices at an HIV/AIDS conference in Moscow in 2009 and 2010. We presented a resolution asking the government to focus on three things: education; decreasing intravenous drug use; and medication for HIV-positive pregnant women.

In 2010, our conference participation was fully underwritten by the Russian Orthodox Church. Under our guidance, the final conference resolution omitted all inflammatory language about the role of homosexuality in the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Project Kesher groups also work with the most vulnerable HIV/AIDS population: children in orphanages who have been infected with the disease.

BREAST CANCER ─ awareness, support & activism

Every year 50,000 women in the region are newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

The breast cancer rate has increased 64% over the last 20 years. Working on our own and in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in cities throughout the region, Project Kesher has helped develop culturally-sensitive and cost-effective programs to educate women about breast cancer, motivate them to go for diagnosis and treatment and to emotionally sustain women post-treatment through peer support groups.

  • Prevention, early detection and disease management are even more critical here than elsewhere, because the cost of extensive treatment for advanced disease is prohibitive for most women in this region. Our women's groups work to counter the strong aversion to self-examination and mammograms.
  • In Belarus, Project Kesher leaders conducted workshops to ensure that women got mammograms when the government-run mobile breast cancer screening devices were brought to their cities. Hundreds of women throughout the country had mammograms, and the program is being expanded. Project Kesher was honored by the Belarusian government for this initiative.

Beit Binah: Text Study to Health Activism

Each month, approximately 1,500 women in the Project Kesher network gather to study Jewish text and inspire each other to engage in women's health activism.  Whether a group of women learns how to cook more nutritious meals, accompany each other for mammograms or meet with pregnant women to discuss pre-natal care, the project seeks to make text come alive through the activities of the participants.  The Beit Binah project gives Jewish women two access points to deepen their Jewish identity - study and activism -- a powerful combination.

Jewish Identity & renewal: Beit Binah >>

the L.a. Pincus Fund for jewish education in the diaspora >>