El Hudaj (“Canopy”)

El Hudaj is a dedicated sport, fitness, and health-promotion center for women, operating in the Bedouin city of Rahat. The project, the first of its kind in Bedouin society, was established with the aim of raising awareness among Bedouin women about the importance of physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. El Hudaj helps promote the health of women in the community, addressing the rising cases of diabetes, obesity, and abnormal blood pressure among a significant percentage of Arab-Bedouin women. 

The venture was established in 2015 as a social business, the revenues of which are reinvested into the community, in partnership between AJEEC-NISPED and two private entrepreneurs – Judy Stoller and Chaya Shrier. Since its establishment, El Hudaj offers, in addition to a variety of sport and fitness classes, an array of enrichment activities in proper nutrition and healthy lifestyles, including workshops and lectures for pregnant and postpartum women, nutrition workshops, healthy cooking and more. 

El Hudaj has addressed unique challenges since its establishment, including conservatism and suspicion towards innovative initiatives, low awareness of the importance of an active lifestyle, and the need to adapt the activities of the fitness center to local religion and tradition. To address the difficulties, the center is intended for women only, photography is not allowed, and it is secured in order to provide the members complete privacy and a sense of safety. Among other things, the center offers women a prayer room and the activity schedule is built around Muslim prayer times.

El Hudaj collaborates with many establishments in the community, including the welfare departments of Rahat and surrounding cities, local Community Centers, HMOs and social organizations involved in promoting Bedouin society.

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