Jewish Federations Mission Touring Israel¹s
South in Expression of Solidarity
Delegation Acting as ³External Ambassadors² to Express Support and Convey
Israel¹s Story to the World
(SDEROT, Southern Israel- July 15, 2014) More than two dozen American Jewish
communal leaders are currently touring communities in Southern Israel in an
emergency solidarity mission of the Jewish Federations across North America
(JFNA). The mission is an effort to visit locales directly affected by
rocket attack and to demonstrate that the North American Jewish community
stands alongside the people of Israel at this time.
Meanwhile, JFNA have also launched an emergency fund aimed at providing
urgent and immediate assistance to Israeli communities under the barrage of
rockets attacks from Gaza. The ³Stop the Sirens² campaign is a partnership
with the Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism. The campaign will
respond to immediate needs being addressed in collaboration with Jewish
Federation¹s overseas partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American
Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Israel Trauma Coalition and other
groups and coordinated with the Government of Israel.
During the two-day mission, delegates have traveled to Ashkelon, Sderot and
Beer Sheva, as well as smaller kibbutzim and moshavim that have been
directly impacted by rocket attacks from Gaza. By tonight, they will have
visited a hospital in Ashkelon, a ³protected playground² and other sites in
Sderot, relocation and relief sites for the region¹s children, and bomb
shelters in Sderot and on Kibbutz Nir Am.
The Jewish leaders toured the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, which
provides medical attention for both Israeli and Palestinian victims. The
visit to the hospital was interrupted twice by the wail of the air-raid
sirens that sent the delegates scurrying for cover.
They also visited the Amigour Apartments in Sderot. Amigour is one of the
largest builders of public housing in Israel and is owned by the Jewish
Agency and United Israel Appeal. The company owns a Sderot apartment
building constructed with bunkers in each apartment.
Also in Sderot a city located less than a mile from Gaza the delegates
learned about what life is like for Israelis living with constant rocket
fire. In a meeting with Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, delegates had a chance to
hear about the practical and emotional challenges facing residents who live
in such close proximity to rocket fire.
The group also visited with the Joint Distribution Committee-supported
Center for Young Adults. Though the Center works throughout the country to
provide counseling and guidance for young adults throughout the year, they
have opened its doors as a Œsafe space¹ for children and families in Sderot
during the current emergency.
And today, they toured the JDC-supported Center for Independent Living in
Beer Sheva to learn about how the recent crisis challenged the disabled.
They also visited the JAFI Yealim Absorption Center in Beer Sheva and met
with ³Students Under Fire² at Ben Gurion University
³Our goal in this mission is to serve as external ambassadors and to provide
the people of Israel with the reassurance that they are not alone in this
battle and that the Jewish communities of North America and all the Diaspora
stand behind this effort to protect Israel¹s home front,² said Jerry
Silverman, JFNA¹s President and CEO. ³But it also has given us the
appreciation for the real trauma that the people of Israel are experiencing.
This is a message that the world needs to appreciate, so that Israel can do
everything necessary to protect her citizens.²
JFNA opened a $10 million fundraising effort to meet Israel¹s most immediate
needs caused by ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza. Working with the Reform
and Conservative Movements, the campaign helps service-providers deliver the
medical, psychological and other items required to treat Israeli victims.
Due to partner agencies¹ work already on the ground, these funds will be
able to counsel and help more than 40,000 children who live within 25 miles
of Gaza and have spent a lifetime under fire, support senior centers that
provide thousands of elderly living in poverty‹many of them Holocaust
survivors‹with food and comfort, and offer counseling to the most vulnerable
populations in Israel.
Local municipalities are at the forefront of managing community services and
responses to attacks. JFNA has deep partnerships with these cities, and
targeted local assistance helps bridge the gap between government aid and