The Empty Chair Program | A Peaceful Solution to Terrorism

The Empty Chair Program

Imagine you are gathered for the holidays but because of terrorism, there is an empty chair at your family table. For families, this can be devastating. It can re-hash all the memories of the loss and make the holidays a difficult time. The Empty Chair Program of the Navah Organization hosts the Seder for families of victims of terror. This provides comfort and hope and gives the families a sense of community. 

Husband and wife, Yitzchok and Tehilla Friedman began the Navah Organization 13 years ago. Most nonprofits begin when individuals begin working to address an unmet social need. According to Tehilla Friedman, "Our idea began as an act of kindness. We had to learn the hard way how to run an organization." She admitted, "We began successfully fundraising, but, after the Crash of 2008, we faced a crisis in funding."

Tehilla and Chavi

The Empty Chair Program credits Chavi Ehrenfeld, from Navah with the original idea for the community Pesach Seder for these families.  The program is now one of the many Navah programs to help families of victims of terror.  

Tehilla Friedman, herself witnessed a terrorist attacks as a young child. This experience gave her the motivation to begin philanthropic initiatives. 

Tehilla Friedman explained,

"We are an organization that supports people that have gone through terrorist attacks, working in a terrorized country."

Beginning Their Campaign

Starting a campaign with a nonprofit can be both challenging and rewarding.  While it begins as an ideal mission, nonprofits can always be improved upon. As you further develop your nonprofit goals, funding, and projects, your mission statement will also evolve. 

A great example of this adaptive nonprofit strategy is the Empty Chair Program of the Navah organization, a nonprofit that brings solidarity to the families of terror attack survivors. In Israel, it brings them together for the holidays. According to Yitzchok:

"People come in very confused. A lot of anger, pain, hurt. It's hard for them: the missing chair."

To learn about the Empty Chair Program, funded by the Navah organization, watch the following video:

Tips for Aspiring Nonprofits

When asked what challenges they faced when beginning their campaign, Tehilla and Yitzchok highlighted the following points:

  • New media presented challenges. We grew up without social media, so the transition was difficult. If you're not there, you're nowhere.
  • Fundraising and applying for grants was an important skill to learn. It helped us learn how to illustrate our programs – to put what we do into words.
  • Grants grow the organization, they are essential.

What to do

Pay close attention to the needs of others within your social cause, and make sure your organization can sustainably meet those needs.  Research new and existing options to fund your nonprofit. As your nonprofit grows, adapt to these practical guidelines, and you will get the results your organization needs to continue making an impact in the world!

How to Contribute to the Empty Chair Program

Visit the Empty Chair Program's profile to contribute to the Navah organization.

Or, send donations to the following address:

Navah  Organization

616 Corporate Way

Valley Cottage, NY 10989   

US phone: 718-689-1493
Israel phone: 972526065938 *this is an international number 


Check out the following video where co-founder of Navah, Yitzchok Friedman talks about the Passover Seder for these families:

How to Locate Grants 

If you're a nonprofit looking for grants, check out where you can search from thousands of grants. Particularly, pay close attention to the categories listed to the right of the home page, under the chat box.

If you're interested in beginning a program for an unmet need like Yitz, Tehilla and Chavi you will need funding.  Visit Israel or International GrantWatch pages or choose from more than 50 grant categories:

Consider starting a crowdfunding project and choose from more than 100 categories:

If you have any questions, please contact our grant specialists at (561) 249-4129. 

About the Author: This article was written by a GrantNews.Press staff writer with contributions from Yitzchok and Tehilla Friedman of the Navah Organization. They can be reached in Israel at 972526065938 or


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