The Pearl and Harold Jacobs Outreach Zula Center began with five kids and a guitar in the basement of the OU Israel Center. It has since evolved into a safe haven for hundreds of youth at risk in downtown Jerusalem. It provides a secure, supportive environment for teenagers who live on the streets of Jerusalem in search of spiritual roots and identity.
Zula’s mission is to rehabilitate youth at risk, and to help them find meaning in their lives.
Adolescents in Israel, particularly religious adolescents, face an unusual mix of challenges and pressures, from everyday teen issues to the stresses of life in Israel. For some, the challenge is too great. Those teens end up on the streets, they seek solace in a damaging, harmful environment. Zula offers them an alternative. The open, non-coercive atmosphere and camaraderie at the Zula encourages self-expression and nurtures the young people back to tradition.
The Zula is open Saturday nights from 12AM-5AM. It offers youth on the streets a respite, and a spiritual connection to their Jewish heritage. The Zula also provides group therapy throughout the week as well as one-on-one discussions.
A New Future
For many troubled teens, walking into the Zula, with its Jewish music and acceptance is a way to escape from the dangers of the streets. It is a sanctuary, it gives off a light which glows, illuminates their souls, revives their spirit and gives them hope for a new tomorrow.
The Zula Events
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Not too long ago I was on the streets, looking for my next score. I was in a bad crowd and in a bad way. I didn’t see any future. Talking with Zula counselors, I’m getting stronger and learning to believe in myself. And tomorrow. I’m not there yet. But I’m learning.