Project Shifra is named for a midwife in ancient Egypt who disobeyed the Pharaoh’s decree to murder all Hebrew male babies. Committed to protecting human life and ensuring that families thrive, the Aleph Institute embodies the spirit of Shifra’s legacy in a community-based program supporting women, children, and families.


The Shifra Program


The Shifra program began in 2014 to serve those in the community who are struggling with life’s curveballs. Many individuals and families —in every community, including ours —struggle with a host of issues.


The Taylor family (name changed for privacy) was referred to Aleph Institute, as Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth, and Families (CYF) was investigating child neglect and other concerns in the family. The family lived in Squirrel Hill, was Orthodox, and felt comfortable turning to Aleph for support.


After helping the family navigate the services available to them, it became apparent that there were many other families like the Taylors who were in need. With the encouragement of Allegheny County DHS, we developed a program that became known as  Shifra.


Today the Shifra Program offer services to those in dire need – because of child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, and substance abuse – as well as other supports, long before there is any serious crisis.  Services include a food pantry (the Shed), support groups, and after-school programming.


Please read below for more detail.

Employment - The Shifra Program works with families to find and secure dignified and stable employment. We help families transition from lay-offs and terminations, and assist individuals with career counseling services such as resume edits and cover letter reviews to help clients seek employment to support their families.

Shed - Many clients, especially children, in the community suffer from food insecurity.   In the Summer of 2022, the Shifra Program erected a 'Shed' behind Aleph Institute, for more information please visit the Shed.
Housing Stability - Clients who fear eviction or who are having difficulty making rent payments on time can reach out to the Aleph Institute for guidance. The Aleph Institute seeks to ensure that families have safe housing. 
Mental Health and Well Being - The Shifra Program offers a variety of services aimed at addressing substance abuse, including counseling from religious leaders in the community and a volunteer licensed clinical social worker who is available to meet at no cost, with individuals who may want to speak with a therapist.
Mothers, especially single mothers, often experience isolation and loneliness as caregivers, and the Aleph Institute aims to alleviate that stress. 
Family Dynamics -  Parenting challenges, personal conflicts, tension, and trauma can all  impact the dynamics in a family, and the Aleph Institute can provide resources to help  navigate family relationships. 
School Supplies - Many children lack basic school supplies. The Aleph Institute identifies that need and attempts to provide basic resources so that families have one less expense to worry about and so that children can be equipped with the necessary tools to succeed in their education. 
 After-School Program - The Shifra Program has started an after school program for members of our Shifra program. This programming is intended to give kids a safe place to stay after school to socialize with their peers while their parents or caregivers finish up at work. Food is provided at the after school program, to help the kids and their families. This program is intended to not only be a benefit for the kids themselves, as it gives them more time with their peers, but also gives families a chance to secure or maintain employment while alleviating some of the pressure of child care.

Read more about the After School Program.


Miriam's Center - The Shifra Program has a community support group to help women navigate life together. This gives women in the community the chance to connect with others who may be navigating similar difficult life situations. Participants can build natural support networks with their peers and learn about agencies in the community that might be able to provide services they may need. Currently, Project Shifra supports over 90 different families and over 300 children in the community. Often, Project Shifra targets many issues at the same time because they are often interconnected and related. Without a stable form of employment, for example, families are likely to become food insecure, jeopardize their stable housing situations, and experience mental health challenges and family dynamics stress. The Aleph Institute’s belief is that we all experience obstacles in our lives and a helping hand and support can often be a solution to lift people out of their trying personal hurdles. No one Is alone, no one is forgotten.

Read more about Miriam's Center.



If you or someone you know could benefit from the services offered by the Aleph Institute’s  Project Shifra, please contact [email protected] or 412-421-0111 Ext. 115.