Video courtesy of jn1.tv
"This place used to be a gambling center," says Nitza Halevi, founder and owner of Atchalta coffee shop. "All the time we saw children gambling here and playing in here and it really broke our hearts.
"We felt at last that our prayers were answered when we saw a 'for rent' small sign and we were so glad. So the next day we came in here. We didn't know how we're going to pay, because we were young couple with three children.
"We entered it lightly. You see all the light and the white. It was really a dark place. We feel that we're doing something good for the community, for everyone.”
The idea was to create a place what would empower women, but Jewish style.
“What we want to show here is you can see religious people open a place only for women and children with the approach of the Lubavitcher rebbe," says Amir Halevi. "Our approach supports an emotional and spiritual growth for women and nurturing the pride of the Jewish woman.
"Therefore, we opened a place that is meant for women, to empower women, doing so by explaining the unique and special powers granted to her, by the Lord.”
“We really wanted to show the real beautiful face of Judaism and the power of women and children," adds Nitza Halevi. "This is the place to enjoy, to learn something more, and this place is for every woman; it's not only for a religious or non-religious, it's for everyone.”
'Only for women and children'
Revital Solomon, one of the regulars, feels that the place gives her the spiritual fix for the whole week.
“I come here to hear lectures and to learn more," she says. "As a woman, I have a problem to get the knowledge because all the rabbis are a closed group, only teaching the men and you're not allowed. I can't sit with my husband and learn something together.
"Here it's a place for women and I'm finally able to come here every week. We enjoy it very much because we learn a lot of things that I can't get anywhere else… It gives you a different way to relax and not to think of how you look and what you say. It's really a different situation that you feel more free to ask questions and to be natural.”
Even though there have been many men who have wanted to come to their place too, the Halevis stand strong with the rules of their establishment.
“We hear a lot from men that they want to come also because it's nice," says Nitza Halevi, "so we're thinking about it maybe for the future, but for now it's only for women and children.”
Amir Halevi adds, "Some of my friends ask, 'Can't I come drink coffee with you? I cannot enter this place?' My response is, 'Listen, everyone can come here and, for example, buy coffee or buy pastry or whatever, but sitting here is only for women and children.'
"We had people calling us, not religious women, who wanted our help in establishing a similar institute like this, a similar social project like the one we do here, and of course we said that we would happily advise and help as much as we can.”