What is ELI

Though Jewish tradition cherishes children as the guardians of our future, society today suffers from all of the maladies of modern life. In Israel, a recent survey showed that 40,000 children, at least 1.5% of the total child population, are victims of parental incompetence, cruelty, neglect, or emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Therapeutic services have proven to be the most effective methodology to address family violence and the only way to break the cycle of intergenerational child abuse.

The Israel Association for Child Protection (ELI) is recognized by the Government of Israel and other human service agencies as the only organization in Israel that deals specifically and exclusively with all of the various aspects of child abuse. The organization works tirelessly to increase awareness of the problem by educating the public at large, by training professionals, by lobbying policy decision makers, and by providing vital information to potential victims and parents – all to enhance ELI’s ability to provide assistance.

ELI’s staff of professionals and specially trained volunteers are unique in their approach, offering a single-point-of-entry to comprehensive services. Families receive therapy, legal counseling, shelter and whatever other support services are needed without having to go from agency to agency. Thus, ELI complements other human service agencies in Israel by providing a totally coordinated spectrum of services, not only to children who have been abused or neglected, but also to adults who were childhood victims of abuse and to abusive parents who need help to overcome their problem. Individual, group and family therapy sessions are offered throughout Israel.

ELI utilizes individual, family, and group therapies for the victim, the perpetrator, the spouse (who failed to protect the child), the siblings (who witnessed the abuse), and the grandparents (often the root source of abusive behavior). Therapy can stop current abuse, alter parental behavior, and help children overcome the devastation resulting from abuse that can affect their ability to form relationships of love and trust throughout their lives. This problem frequently involves a crisis situation in which immediate intervention is necessary. All other human services in Israel look to ELI as the organization with the overall responsibility to provide children with the protection and treatment needed in these difficult situations.

ELI’s multifaceted organization offers a very full range of services:

  • Hotline - a toll-free number throughout Israel offering immediate crisis intervention.
  • Clinical Department - providing treatment to the abused victims and their families as well.
  • Shelter - offering immediate protection to abused children who must be removed from home.
  • Educational Programs - identifying, reporting and preventing child abuse in schools throughout Israel.
  • Training Division - developing and disseminating knowledge to professionals in related fields of social services.
  • Legal Department - providing legal aid and representation to victims of abuse.
  • Lobbying - working with the government to influence legislation.
  • Public Awareness - interfacing with the media to increase awareness of the issue of child abuse in Israel.
  • Target Groups - working with immigrants, minorities and other closed communities. Stress, frequent military duty, fear of random terrorism, unemployment and the difficulties associated with immigrating to a new country all contribute to the fact that children are abused in Israel.

The ELI hotline is toll free from anywhere in Israel. The emergency shelter, located in Tel Aviv, can accommodate up to fifteen children from anywhere in the country. ELI's experience with a very diverse population and its remarkable accomplishments over the past three decades have served as a worldwide model of success in combating this difficult and painful problem.


Hanita Zimrin, PhD, is the founder and chairperson of ELI, the Israel Association for Child Protection. 


Dr. Zimrin was born in Jerusalem and studied there at Hebrew University, from which she received her BSW and MSW degrees in 1968 and 1974, respectively.  She was the first person in Israel to be awarded a Ph.D. in Social Work in 1978.  As a professor at Tel Aviv University from 1970-1988, Dr. Zimrin headed the Children and Youth Unit at the School of Social Work.  She continues to be a frequent lecturer at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as well as a consultant to financial institutions on matters of family business and management.

Since founding ELI IN 1979, Dr. Zimrin has successfully brought about significant improvement in Israel’s child protection laws, and the Knesset has enacted many of her suggestions into law.  She has addressed the full Knesset on the subject of child abuse and is frequently called to committee hearings as an expert in the field.  In addition, Dr. Zimrin serves on the board of Kupat Holim, Israel’s largest health maintenance organization.

Widely regarded as a leading figure in Israel and throughout the world in the field of child protection, Dr. Zimrin is a member of the editorial board of The International Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect published in the US and circulated internationally.  Under university and government auspices, she has initiated and led a wide range of educational workshops in Israel.  She has organized, chaired and given keynote addresses at numerous international conferences, educational seminars, congresses and scientific committees throughout the world on the subject of child protection and welfare, including Amsterdam, Paris, Hamburg, Oslo, Baku (Azerbajan), Beijing, Ankara, Montreal, Toronto, Dublin, Prague, Cyprus, Geneva, Chicago, New York, Honolulu and Washington, DC, presenting papers and leading research and training projects on family, children, pornography, drugs, alcoholism and other subject related to child abuse.

In 1996 Dr. Zimrin was selected to be the professional head of the Israeli Mission to the United Nations General Assembly.  In 1997 she served as an advisor in the multi-lateral framework of the Middle East peace talks.  Dr. Zimrin has published four books and is the author of numerous articles appearing in professional journals throughout the United States, Europe and Israel.

Dr. Zimrin has received public recognition multiple times for her exceptional career.  Among her many awards are the following:  the Henrietta Szold Prize in 1980 for “exceptional contributions to Israeli society;” the Israel President’s Award in 1989 for Volunteer Work; the prestigious Distinguished Career Award in 1996 from the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, which cited her remarkable achievements in Israel and her worldwide contributions to the field; and, most recently, in March of 2008, she was honored by the Prime Minister of Israel as one of eight women who have made extraordinary contributions to Israeli society.