Project Tikvah

The Aleph Institute is pleased to announce receipt of a $250,000 Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) to support Project Tikvah, its innovative program that serves troubled youth facing incarceration or already in prison due to addiction or mental illness.  

The Foundation’s Cutting Edge Grant supports new initiatives that have proven early success and leadership in addressing unmet needs within the Los Angeles Jewish community. The multi-year awards facilitate the expansion of promising programs to transform the lives of community members.

Project Tikvah, a new Jewish program that advocates for alternative sentencing options and effective intervention solutions for hundreds of struggling youth, primarily ages 16-32, represents such innovation.

The program aims to halt the vicious cycle of repeat incarceration, hospitalization, relapse, homelessness and sometimes death among this vulnerable population. Early results have been remarkably successful, with many of those served currently out of jail and in various stages of recovery and rehabilitation, including several who have secured employment and are mentoring others in need.

“…Project Tikvah is one of the most innovative programs I have seen in Los Angeles County,” notes Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles District Attorney.

Tikvah, which means hope in Hebrew, advocates for an end to the counterproductive measures and devastating impacts of incarceration by offering a humane and holistic solution: advocacy for court-approved alternatives to prison sentencing, placement in appropriate detox and rehab facilities, referrals to counseling and mental-health professionals, spiritual guidance, family engagement, and ongoing supervision from onset of crisis to complete recovery.

“The stigmas surrounding mental illness, addiction, and incarceration can prevent those in the Jewish community who need help the most from seeking it,” said Marvin I. Schotland, President and CEO of The Foundation.  “We are proud to support the innovative Project Tikvah program in providing assistance to those in recovery and rehabilitation, and helping to reduce the rate of recidivism among its clients.”


Tikvah is fundamentally different from traditional rehab facilities. It is not a direct service provider and in no way attempts to provide addiction recovery or mental health treatment. Rather, it is focused on providing crisis management via professional guidance, referrals, alternative sentencing advice, and ongoing crucial spiritual support throughout an individual’s entire recovery process.

Tikvah focuses on rehabilitation rather than recrimination because it knows that with the right tools and meaningful support, struggling young people have tremendous potential to heal, recover and resume productive lives.

As Project Director Leah Perl notes, “These young people can become the most beautiful, strong and selfless productive members of society. Their strength and resilience is like nothing you’ve ever seen.”

Her firsthand experience with young adults like Nathan makes her certain of it.

As the son of a seriously ill woman, Nathan spent his childhood worrying that his mother would die while he was at school. In the midst of this health crisis, he was repeatedly molested by a family friend.

“One time, it was violent,” he remarked in a barely-audible voice. Not surprisingly, the troubled teen turned to drugs and spent nearly two decades addicted and living on the streets.

Once Tikvah was contacted, staff used emergency funds and its network to secure a rehab bed for him. Aleph Institute rabbis also visited him regularly to offer solace, support and inspiration.

Today, Nathan is clean, employed and working to develop himself as an independent member of society. He is grateful to G-d for connecting him with Project Tikvah, and, for the first time in a very long time, he is excited to be alive.

Nathan’s story is but one of dozens that together demonstrate Tikvah’s power and unparalleled success in improving communities, rescuing shattered families and saving lives.

With the new Foundation grant, Tikvah expects to serve many more in Los Angeles via emergency living expenses, advocacy for alternative sentencing proposals, assistance with medical insurance procurement, community engagement and support, and rabbinical guidance.  

Through ongoing dialogue within the community and a broader dissemination of its services to those in need, Tikvah also strives to shatter the stigma of mental illness, addiction and incarceration that prevents too many families from seeking vital help and support.   

As an initiative of the Aleph Institute, Tikvah embodies its parent organization’s mission to support families with loved ones who are incarcerated or in other institutional environments. Aleph was founded in 1981 by Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar at the express direction of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

If you have a loved one in Los Angeles who is in prison or facing jail time as a result of a mental disease or addiction and who might benefit from Project Tikvah, please contact Leah Perl at [email protected] or at (310) 598-2142.