Meet Timora’s Visionary Founder
Ariel Sokoloff grew up in a national religious community. He says that in third grade he knew that he wanted to be an educator.
Motivated and determined, Ariel served in the IDF’s world-renowned Search and Rescue Air Force Unit, and then received his degree in education from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is married and has six children. When he was first starting out, he and his wife lived in Ma’aleh Adumim. Their evening walks there changed his life.
“I saw kids roaming the streets at night, drunk, high, with no direction,” he explains. “These were kids from good religious families, but the phenomenon was completely ignored. As a result, these youth were not getting the help they needed.”
Ariel was determined to change this. First, he had to convince the parents, the educators and the rabbis that this situation needed a solution.
“It was a constant uphill battle,” he explains. “No one in the religious community wanted to admit that there was a problem. Slowly but surely they agreed that something needed to be done.”
Ariel’s initial step was to establish the Yiftach campus on the shores of the Dead Sea for male teens at-risk. His vision was to create a safe haven for these youth, and develop a groundbreaking educational and rehabilitative place where they could heal.
Timora students build community together
“Timora’s rehabilitative model is based on seeing, respecting and accepting each young person,” says Ariel. “The curriculum, which leads to high school graduation and higher education or vocational training, is accompanied by deep emotional and personal support, and growth through expressive arts therapy (drama, art, dance, etc) that is embraced by each person and sustained into the future.”
Ariel worked tirelessly to expand Timora’s activities, capabilities, and outreach. Today, twenty-one years later, Timora encompasses six residential villages and a day program, located on the shores of the Dead Sea to the Jordan Valley, Shilo, Beitar Illit and Rachelim.
“I can say with pride that we are the leading educational network for religious at-risk youth in Israel,” says Ariel
Today, Timora serves nearly 500 teens ages 14-18 from Orthodox families. It recently opened a new community-run co-ed religious high school with 70 students. Its exceptional work transforms lives and is recognized and supported by the government, local municipalities, educators, and community leaders. Given its proven results and their impact, Timora is a model for new and cutting-edge methods of education which can be tailored for both religious and general education in Israel.
Ariel could easily rest on his laurels, but he continues to dream and work nonstop, together with his dedicated staff, to realize them. He is still as passionate about rebuilding young lives as he was when he took his evening walks so many years ago.
“My dream is to save lives and to secure futures,” he says. “I want to give every religious teen at-risk, female and male, the essential tools and experience they so desperately need to live fulfilled, meaningful lives.”
“I want to ensure that every adolescent who comes to Timora in crisis leaves as a young person with purpose, capability and direction.”