What is Women of Lod?

Women of Lod is a blog comprised of interviews and discussions with local Arab, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women from Lod. Simultaneously, it also documents the numerous events taking place in Lod’s Mosaic: Multicultural Community Center, serving as a platform to garner international awareness to marginalized communities in Israel. Lod is a mixed Jewish and Arab city located approximately twenty minutes from Tel Aviv. While it is close to the largest, most populated city in Israel, its reputation as a dangerous environment eclipses the city’s many grassroots social justice initiatives, and the unique voices of its residents. The interviews focus on a variety of topics and issues within the women’s lives, but specifically focus on the sense of empowerment and purpose they have gained from their experiences at the MATNAS Chicago Community Center in Ramat Eshkol. Each conversation provides a window into the thoughts, ideas, and reflections of its local population. This way, Women of Lod strives to empower marginalized voices and give a platform to an ever developing city that is ripe with social justice initiatives.

Mosaic: Multicultural Chicago Community Center

The Mosaic Multicultural Chicago Community Center is located in the Old City of Ramat Eshkol, across the street from Jindas and Naam’s offices. The Community Center was established in the early 2000’s and previously only served Ramat Eshkol’s Jewish population. After considerable time campaigning and protesting however, the community center extended its services to the Arab population. Presently, Ethiopian, Mizrachi, Ashkenazi, and Sephardic Jews, as well as Arab citizens of Israel are all offered the same treatment and opportunities to engage with the community center’s many social development programs. These programs youth development initiatives, support for differently abled local children, women’s empowerment initiatives, and economic development programs in conjunction with Jindas, an urban development NGO. One of the programs this blog is connected to is the Arab-Jewish women’s empowerment group who meet once every two weeks. This group is an open space for women to share themselves, make friends, and address social justice issues within their own communities. Ultimately, the Community Center functions as a redevelopment initiative for Lod’s communities. This blog exists to document the individual experiences of its patrons from all backgrounds, and spread awareness about its programs, goals, and its impact on Ramat Eshkol.

Lod

Lod (otherwise known as Lyd or Lydda in Arabic) is a peripheral urban city sitting twenty minutes outside of Tel Aviv. Local Israelis and Arabs within Israel largely see Lod as a mixed city, meaning there are a variety of ethnic and religious groups congregated within the Lod district. This includes Russian Jews, Ashkenazim, Mizrahim, Sephardim, Ethiopian Jews, Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel, and Palestinian citizens of the West Bank living without papers. In 1948, Lod experienced one of the largest exodus’ of the native Palestinian population. This left the city’s remaining inhabitants in difficult and unsure situation as they had no resources to develop their communities. Lod is currently in the process of being redeveloped by Jewish and Arab activists. There has been a steady increase in student movements migrating to develop the area, as well as development initiatives within the Arab population gaining more traction. This makes Lod’s future bright and full of promise and opportunities.