Social entrepreneurship always gives me an ‘energy boost’ and I feel the need to share it with you. This time, we have a fascinating, still developing story that begins somewhere in 2018, and is being told to us by Michal Sadeh –

“Nice to meet you. I’m Michal Sadeh Goldvasser, Sawa entrepreneur. Resident of Zikhron Ya’akov, married to Oren and mother to Itamar, Alona, ​​Hillel, and Yiftach. I am a social entrepreneur, accompanying organizations and individuals in change processes and entrepreneurship development. I work with school principals developing educational entrepreneurship processes, teaching social entrepreneurship, and more. I have a master’s degree in Social Work, specializing in leadership and social change and I am a graduate of the Mandel Program for Regional Leadership. I came to the social phase of my life after 20 years of experience in media and television where I worked as a journalist, content editor, format developer and as the manager of a television channel.

The program to promote economic development by the US Embassy’s MEPI Foundation – THE Middle East Partnership Initiative (it’s worth following the opportunities there Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI)) was launched in 2018 in Jisr az-Zarqa, in collaboration with the legal clinics of Tel Aviv University, the Mossawa Center for Arab Rights, and the most importantly for our story – Neta Hanien and Ahmed Juha, the entrepreneurs behind Juha’s Guesthouse in Jisr az-Zarqa, who realized that an economic development program for village residents would be the engine for promoting tourism. Juha’s Guesthouse website. Neta meanwhile has relocated to Africa, but even there she continues to spread her entrepreneurial spirit, and I highly recommend getting to know and following her. And that’s how I came to run the program alongside the best of partners, Genevieve Begue, who already at the time worked and volunteered at Jisr, mainly with women and teenagers. The main part of the program was vocational training for women in handicrafts, along with entrepreneurial development courses for novices and veteran entrepreneurs. 90 women, 6 courses. Highly talented teachers taught Palestinian embroidery, straw weaving, bead jewelry, macrame and macrame jewelry, and we even had a culinary entrepreneurship course. The training incorporated lessons in economic business conduct, in partnership with Koret Israel Economic Development Funds (KIEDF) – an economic development association that works mainly in Arab society. There were even follow-up courses that we created together with Maof and the welfare center in the village. Practically a party…

A picture from the completion of the bead jewelry course with the head of the municipality Sheik Morad Ammash

Palestinian embroidery course hosted by Nahed Knaana


Weaving straw course hosted by Yonit Crystal

Macrame course hosted by Adi Assaf

Cullinary entrepeneurship course hosted by Futna Jahber

Attached is a two-and-a-half-minute video that students from the Technion prepared as part of the course “Technological capital training for the community”. All photos – by Shula Levin, a photographer and more… take a closer look here. Shula takes pictures, writes, edits and is in general a very talented woman. Shula accompanied our entire training program, photographed, and documented it, all voluntarily.

In 2019, the MEPI program concluded with considerable success. 90 women learned how to create handicrafts or run a culinary venture and even sell and earn a living from their creations, and we haven’t even talked about the personal and emotional empowerment that was a result of the meetings. It was clear to both Genevieve and I that there’s no scenario in which these women returned to their homes as if nothing happened. We understood that a follow-up plan was necessary. So, we established the project “Zarqa Gallery” – a creative and learning space for the village women, where they learn occupational training, are given space for personal expression and may even sell their creations and earn a living to some extent from their handiwork. The opening of the gallery, which was established right in the center of the village on the entrance floor of the Juha Guesthouse, was accompanied by an extraordinary exhibition that we created jointly with Pardes Hanna artist Anat Or Magal, who for all intents and purposes embroidered the dreams of and with the Jisr women. You can find more about the Jiser Dreaming exhibition, the photos and the stories behind the project here.

View photos from the opening day of the gallery which also included the local food market led by the graduates of the culinary entrepreneurship course and you can watch while listening to the song that accompanied the opening “How are you this morning sister – in Hebrew and Arabic” created by female members of HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed [The Working and Studying Youth youth movement]:

And so began a period of flourishing for women, for the gallery, for art, for joint projects, for visits by the residents of the area, for some of whom this was the first time they had a reason to enter the village and meet the locals a in positive and empowering context. Naama Goldman Schwartz, who then managed the Juha Guesthouse, helped us on all the projects, for which I am very grateful. Today Naama works at the Medical Wadi project – a joint Jewish and Arab center for the promotion of public health in the Wadi Ara area – we recommend you follow and participate in the activities mentioned, the epitome of shared life. Gallery projects were displayed during various opportunities, for example in the exhibition “Brucha” [In her Spirit] in memory of Ruth Dayan, and also in a store in Binyamina called “Green Queen”.

Every project we undertook at the gallery had to meet three criteria:

  1. Teaching women a new field or skill
  2. Products that will allow women to expand their economic capacity, i.e., sell their products
  3. The final product should be a bridge, that is – a meeting between the residents of Jisr az-Zarqa and the surrounding area. Whether it’s an exhibition, a food market, a joint sale or any other meet-up that would promote beneficial and heartwarming acquaintances. To turn the Gesher=Jisr [bridge] into a conduit for connections and friendships

To this day, these are the three principles embroidered on each of our projects.

You can watch the video – 4 minutes, filmed, edited and produced by Shula Malchi Levin.


That year, we created collaborations with artists, with art schools, including a particularly gratifying course with “Bezalel – the Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem”, which took place during and despite the corona virus outbreak, in which the women of the project taught handicrafts through Zoom (!) to the students, and those same students, as their final project, proposed new products for development and creation by the women.

However, the party ended sometime during the corona outbreak. Shortly before that, I realized that I would not be able to make a living from the venture, so I switched to managing it voluntarily, while working full-time in other areas of entrepreneurship. Our physical space has also closed. The collaboration with the Juha Guesthouse had ended, the gallery floor that was closed during the corona outbreak has since re-opened as a café (which in Jisr means a space reserved for men, we’ll elaborate on that at another time.) Accordingly, we had to rethink our trajectory.

For our venture, 2021 became a year in which we had to revisit the entrepreneurial roller coaster. Genevieve, my dear travel companion, packed her things and went on to wander the world, where she continues to spread her goodness. You can follow her blog Wake in Wave. As stated, we no longer had a physical space, so what did we have? A group of creative women, connections and a whole lot of good spirit. And so was born the joint project with Shenkar College. I met Celia Jawabreh, who then headed Shenkar’s Unit for Arab Students, as part of our studies in the Mandel Foundation’s regional leadership program. Celia is a woman whose whole being is connections, activism, and shared life. She was born in Fureidis, currently lives in Kafr Qara, and leads programs at the Branco Weiss Institute. Celia Jawabreh is very worth following this wonderful woman and her unique views. Here I am photographed with Celia:

Our joint project was supposed to be quite simple. The idea was to develop a new product, to fulfill a contemporary need, based on the creative abilities of the women, but with an up-to-date spirit and tone. For this purpose, Shenkar College allocated a budget, a product designer and students who assisted in various aspects of the project. In the absence of a physical home where we could work and sell (remember when the gallery closed?) we turned to look for new collaborations.


And so the connection with the Beachub was born – a shared workspace in the fishing village of Jisr, WEWORK style, only on the beach and with a amazing social impact. Unfortunately, at the time of writing these lines (October 2022) – the Beachub is inactive following a fire that broke out there and consumed the place a few months ago. Since then, it hasn’t returned to operation. Read more about Moran and Niemer’s amazing project with the Beachub and Dialog Together, and about the Beachub itself. Nonetheless, around that time in May 2021, Beachub was still there, and there were dozens of people who came every month to work on their laptops in the space, and that’s how the idea for laptop bags to be sold there was born – bags decorated with Palestinian embroidery, wherein everything, including the sewing of the bags – handmade by the women residents of the village. It took a while for the project to come to fruition. Alas, May 2021 brought with it not only an entrepreneurial spirit, but also “Shomer HaHomot,” which froze all activity. In a future post I will elaborate on the relationships maintained throughout with the women of the village, the circles of sharing and the pain we shared. But one way or another, we reached the month of August, and the project was launched. Every week the women of the project met with the talented product designer Kim Munoz-Salazar who guided, taught, and trained them with great patience. You should follow Kim, such a talented designer and entrepreneur, on LinkedIn. During the course, after the Beachub area burned down and closed, we moved to work with the youth center in the village, another significant and empowering connection.

After half a year of working together we had a collection… and our venture got its new name Sawa, which means together. You can read more about the connection between Celia and I here, in the article published in the Mandel Foundation’s magazine: Female alumni in the field: an economic-social project for the empowerment of women in Jisr az-Zarqa. And here you can read more about the foundation, the leadership programs, and its activities to improve the world. And towards the 2022, a catalog, photographs, and even a logo were created courtesy of Shenkar College.

So what else did we have this year?

An extremely significant visit by the Minister for Social Equality, Meirav Cohen, who asked to hold an intimate meeting with some women from the village. The women of our project sat down for a heart-to-heart conversation with the minister, talking about the barriers facing women today in Arab society and in Jisr az-Zarqa specifically. Following the visit, the minister decided to allocate special budgets to the women in Jisr az- Zarqa. And here is the final point for today – the digital catalog. A product of cooperation with students from the Social Hub at the Technion, another body whose activities are really worth getting to know. In recent years, we have been supported by groups of students who develop digital platforms, starting with a website, a video clip and the current product – a catalog that displays the products, introduces the creative women and their areas of specialty and expertise, and details for direct contact with them – for purchase.

So this is today’s Sawa. We will be happy to hear any thoughts on possible connections and collaborations. Feel free to email me at Thank you for your time and attention, Michal”

This is where Michal’s story ends, we will be happy, as always, to hear comments.

All the best, Keren