Levi, a 76-year-old grandfather, went to the ATM one evening to withdraw cash, as he was used to doing on a regular basis. Shimon, a 20-year-old man, approached Levi, shoved him, grabbed the cash and then ran away. Levi was hurt, stunned and angry. He subsequently developed acute emotional distress, concerned that he could now no longer afford the medications he needed for that month. After the incident, he began reconsidering every time he needed to leave his home and felt a constant sense of fear and helplessness when outside. Shimon was arrested, questioned and a robbery indictment against him was filed in the district court. Levi was listed as a witness. In the restorative justice process – Levi, Shimon, their supporters and community representatives met. Shimon apologized and took responsibility for his actions. Levi and Shimon together decided to deal with the implications of the robbery and agreed on suitable reparations. Shimon returned the money he stole and began volunteering in the neighborhood senior citizens club. The community director, who was also a community representative in the process, understood the difficulties facing the elderly population in the neighborhood and decided to improve the lighting in public areas in the evenings. The agreement was submitted to the court where Shimon was prosecuted. The court took into consideration the restorative justice agreement made when deciding his punishment.
Yulia, an immigrant from Russia, attended a boarding school in central Israel. On the school bus home, she asked the driver, Moshe, to make a stop so that she could smoke. Moshe refused and an argument erupted between the two. During one of the stops, the verbal violence escalated to physical violence by Moshe. Yulia filed a complaint to the police. Moshe was fired, his public vehicle driving license was revoked, and an indictment was filed against him for assault of a minor, bodily harm, and making threats. He was very hurt and upset by this but accepted responsibility for his actions and requested a meeting with Yulia to apologize and provide reparations. Mosaica’s restorative justice facilitators met with each of the parties separately. Yulia, now an IDF soldier, agreed to meet with Moshe. In addition to having the opportunity to agree on reparations, the two could also clarify the circumstances of the event.
The meeting was held at Mosaica with the supervision of two restorative justice facilitators. Moshe, the driver, was accompanied by his wife and a friend. Yulia was accompanied by the boarding school house mother and a personal counselor, a police officer and a community representative who had previously been a school bus driver. Dani, Moshe childhood friend, explained that “the meeting began with a lot of tension. The offender sat with his arms crossed, and everyone was on edge. I understood that the stress of such a process can be even worse than a court proceeding, and that a meeting designed for reconciliation is not simple…”
Shapira, R. (2019). Judgement, sentencing, and treatment methods: Expanding the legal means and scope. Mishpat Mafteach Journal, 5, 8:17. (Hebrew)
Studies focusing on community restorative justice indicate a high level of satisfaction among participants who report decreased post-traumatic effects, thanks to the process. Additional research has also supported the advantages of the program to offenders and their surroundings, including reduction in recidivism.
“It’s been a year and I feel I can breathe again…I understood that I’m not a monster. I could have been the driver in that car”
“Even though I was injured, I felt I didn’t belong at court when the offender was being tried. I was barely involved, and things ran their course without me… I was redundant. The offender was center stage, he was punished as the court saw fit, and for me the court trial felt like an additional injury” (quote from a victim during legal proceedings)
“I want to take the opportunity to say thanks. Since the event, I have been a different person. Now, a weight has been lifted. We sat and talked and straightened things out. I truly have no words, other than thanking you for the opportunity, the listening, the entire process, it was amazing. Thank you so much” (quote from offender)
“The most effective way of describing the process is just by seeing the victim speaking with the offender and his wife, taking a ride home with them, something inconceivable at the start of the meeting. Three hours or so earlier, it was impossible to even breathe in the room due to the tension. Later, they left at ease and smiling. That does not occur in a legal proceeding, not for the victims or the offenders, whether they were acquitted, their sentence mitigated or they were convicted and served a maximum penalty. Equal to the tremendous mental stress of the restorative justice process is the relief and benefits to mental welfare and behavior at its conclusion, to both offenders and victims” (quote from offender supporter)
“In one case, an Arab taxi driver was injured by residents of a Haredi neighborhood. The offender who participated in the program asked to apologize to the victim. He was joined by rabbis of the community who also apologized on behalf of the entire community. Moreover, the rabbis represented the community in providing a monetary compensation that would have been impossible for the offender alone to provide. They also published a condemnation of violence against Arabs in the community newspaper” (the process described in the book “From Injury to Healing,” edited by Uri Yanai and Tali Gal)
Naomi Levav-Yoran earned a Master’s degree in criminology from Haifa University. She is a Restorative Justice mediator, Olim LaDerech (Family Group Conferences) facilitator and instructor for mediation simulations.
In her first year working for Mosaica, she was a content coordinator for Olim LaDerech and managed a cultural competency program in the Lod Community Mediation and Dialogue Center (and have felt an emotional attachment to the city since that time). She also managed additional projects in that center and taught the Art of Hosting approach in CEF (Center for Emerging Futures), an organization dedicated to dialogue and cooperation among Israelis and Palestinians.
Moreover, she was a team member and group instructor in HUB TLV, a social activism incubator, and served as a content manager and presenter in Radio Salaam Shalom, a Muslim-Jewish online radio station in Bristol, England.
The Restorative Justice Program consists of a team of instructors with theoretical and practical training, and a rich set of skills gained from experience in various fields. Volunteer Facilitators come with a wide variety of backgrounds: law, social work, education, and others.
To learn more, contact: