Miri yearned to tell Shimon1 the news, but dreaded the look of pain she'd surely see in her husband's eyes.

He was such a devoted husband and father, always making time to play with their two young daughters, even after a hard day at work. She felt guilty telling him something that would cause him heartache, but she knew they had to make a decision soon.

That morning, she discovered she was pregnant with their third child. Miri loved children and wished for another but she knew there was no way they could afford it.

With a new baby on the way, how would they survive?Miri's heart pounded as the questions swirled about in her head. How could they scrounge the money to feed another mouth? Could they manage on one meager salary for another year? Would they lose their apartment once they fell behind on their rent?

Just a week before, she had been fired from her job as a maid. Both she and Shimon earned minimum wages, but together their salaries allowed them to support their family without financial assistance.

When she told him the bad news about her job, Shimon threw up his hands in resignation. "We have to have faith that we'll find another source of income," he said. "It's all in G‑d's hands."

But now with a new baby on the way, how would they survive? She weighed her options. With their depleted savings, and Shimon's small salary, there weren't many choices. She felt trapped.

When Miri finally mustered up the courage, she told Shimon. He put his head in his hands to hide the tears of anxiety that filled his eyes.

They considered their options and came to an unhappy conclusion. They could not afford a child. An abortion was inconsistent with their traditional values, but they felt there was nothing else they could do. They feared for their future.

Miri couldn't believe she was in this situation. The thought of an abortion made her feel sick. Everyone who knew Shimon and Miri considered them the ideal religious couple. Their cozy Jerusalem apartment was always neat. Their little girls, aged five and two, elicited smiles from everyone who saw them. And the family was the picture of happiness as they walked home together from synagogue on Saturday mornings.

Shimon urged Miri to confide in the social worker at the women's health clinic about their dilemma before taking action. The social worker told her to seek help from Nefesh Achat B'Yisrael, known in America as Just One Life.

The very next day, Miri and Shimon went to the downtown Jerusalem office of Just One Life, where veteran social worker Madelaine Gitelman, the group's director, instantly made them feel comfortable. A warm, motherly woman, Gitelman immediately made them feel cared for.

With the promise of aid, they could continue the pregnancyGitelman urged them to think through their possibilities, while explaining that the organization's aim was to make it possible for every couple to continue their pregnancy, even if they faced enormous obstacles.

Just One Life could provide emotional and financial assistance through the birth of the child, Gitelman reassured them. Miri and Shimon glanced at each other and breathed a deep sigh of relief. With the promise of aid, they could continue the pregnancy without hesitation.

Today, Miri and Shimon are the parents of three children, two daughters and a baby boy who loves being the center of attention in the bustling household. The couple work hard at their jobs but are thrilled with their decision. During quieter moments, when her three children are playing together on the newly-carpeted floor of the apartment, Miri reflects on how grateful she is to Just One Life.

Such stories are typical of the growing number of cases that Gitelman deals with on a monthly basis. "Because they are not equipped with financial resources, a natural support system, or if their daily lives are so fraught with stress, their ability to raise a family is severely compromised," Gitelman said about her clients. "We have innumerable examples of women who are faced with difficult choices that have no easy solutions. Helping women cope with their choices and rallying their strengths has been the goal of our intervention."

Gitelman and her small team of social workers help approximately 1,000 women annually, who hail from more than 150 cities, villages, and settlements across Israel.

The demand for the organization's services appears to be rising. The client base is growing at a rate of ten percent each year, with over 100 women turning to Just One Life each month for assistance, said Gitelman.

The women come from a broad range of backgrounds including religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, new immigrants and veteran Israelis.

Most of the women find their way to Gitelman's office through referrals from social workers, nurses or professionals in local welfare offices, baby clinics and hospitals.

What the women share in common is that they all face limited income, difficult family pressure or health issues, and few outside sources of help. A pregnancy just adds to their fear that they will drown in a sea of problems.

Just One Life is responsible for saving 13,000 children since its inception two decades agoAt Just One Life, there's no anti-abortion propaganda, no cajoling. There are only questions about what the family needs in order to feel comfortable raising a new baby. Sometimes it's just a matter of money. Other times, they need services, counseling or other kinds of assistance, said Rabbi Martin Katz, the group's New York-based director.

For many young Israeli mothers living on the fringe of poverty, the prospect of another baby can often seem like too much to bear. Just One Life helps mothers choose life for their children by helping them through the economic and psychological problems that often accompany what might have been unanticipated," said Katz.

Rabbi Etan Tokayer, Executive Vice President of Just One Life
Rabbi Etan Tokayer, Executive Vice President of Just One Life

Through this warm and nurturing brand of love, Just One Life succeeds in preventing thousands of pregnancies from being terminated a year in Israel.

According to Rabbi Etan Tokayer, the organization's Executive Vice President, Just One Life is responsible for saving 13,000 children since its inception two decades ago.

"In America, a good number of pregnancies are terminated out of choice. In Israel, they are terminated because of lack of choice," said Tokayer. "Many of these women feel they have no other choice. But if their issues are dealt with, they'd want to have their child. We try to bring down the crisis level and give them tools to help them arrange their lives."

The goal is not just to throw money at the problem," explains Tokayer, "but rather to empower the mother and give her the skills she needs to manage her life better, to help the whole person, not just to help her have the baby."

The fruits of their labors are thousands of new citizens in Israel every year.

The oldest children that have been saved by Just One Life are now approaching their 20s. They are going into the Israeli Army, they are learning in Torah institutions and universities, and they are taking their rightful place in society, said Tokayer.

"We're not just saving a baby; we're saving a whole life. We're giving a child the opportunity to live a life and give back. In Israel, 15,000 people can be a city. We've nearly created a city because we've saved 13,000 people," said Tokayer.

"Israel's main resource is its children"Just One Life pays roughly $1,800 to each mother to cover financial and psychological services, said Tokayer, adding, "That's amazing. For under $2,000, you can save an entire world and help a Jewish life to be born."

Just One Life also provides assistance to women who have at risk pregnancies or suffer from health problems. Shari was diagnosed with a debilitating illness that, although not life-threatening, put her pregnancy at risk. Just One Life helped her by putting together a team of volunteers to assist her.

Shari's illness made her incapable of holding even light objects, let alone a baby. She was unable to walk up stairs, go shopping or take care of the children. Fortunately, Just One Life came to the rescue by putting together a team of volunteers to assist Shari during her time of need, including a social worker to help her through the difficult period. Several months later, she gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Today, Shari refers to her child as "the light of my life."

The organization had its beginnings twenty years ago when then Brooklyn businessman, Jack Forgash, was reading a newspaper article reporting that roughly 20,000 lives a year in Israel were being terminated.

He reread the article in shock. In a land that treasures each life as a gem, where each Jewish child is an entire world, this could not go on, Forgash said.

He started working the phones. Within a few months, he had an impressive network of rabbis, doctors and benefactors who wanted to help Israeli women who were about to choose abortion as their last resort.

In 1989, Just One Life was born.

"Israel's main resource is its children," Forgash said. "Each child our organization helps bring into the world multiplies our people a hundredfold."

The name of the organization was gleaned from the phrase of the famous Talmudic passage, "He who saves just one life in Israel is one who has saved an entire world" (Sanhedrin 37a).

In the twenty years since the organization has been helping women have their babies, Tokayer said, "We've never had a woman come back to us and complain. But we've had many come back to us years later and say, 'I can't imagine what my life would be like without my kids.' They can't thank us enough."

Click here to visit the Just One Life website.