Jewish Federation Leaders Show Israel Solidarity with Post-War Mission November 30, 2012
In the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense, Jewish Federation leaders will return to Israel next week to show their support as those affected by recent rockets attacks begin to rebuild and reestablish their lives. The Jewish Federations of North America’s “Resilience & Recovery” mission will tour the South of Israel from Dec. 4-6, with more than two dozen participants from Federations across North America.
Throughout their visit in Israel, mission participants will meet with residents and leaders of the most affected areas in the South, hear from senior military and political figures, and see the response of Jewish Federation partners on the ground to help those in need after eight days of intense rocket fire from terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.
“It’s important to see, firsthand, the kind of programs Jewish Federations are supporting to help children, the elderly and people at risk get through these difficult times and get their lives back to normal,” said Susan K. Stern, national campaign chair for JFNA, one of the mission’s leaders. “We stand in solidarity with the people of Israel now and always. We were there with them when the rockets were falling, and we remain there with them today and tomorrow.”
The itinerary includes briefings from senior political and military officials, including Mark Regev, international media advisor to the Prime Minister; Brig. Gen (res) Doron Gavish, former commander of the Air Defense – Iron Dome; MK Yuli Edelstein, minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs; and Dan Shapiro, U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
The group will visit Jewish Federation partner agency sites where Israelis are benefitting from programs and services supported by the Israel Terror Relief Fund – established by JFNA to aid Israelis during and after Operation Pillar of Defense – and other Federation funding.
In Ibim, Federation leaders will spend time at The Jewish Agency for Israel Ibim Absorption Center, where Ethiopian immigrants – some of whom arrived in Israel just weeks before the rockets started to fall – are beginning their new lives in the Jewish State. In Beer Sheva, the mission will visit the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)-supported Center for Independent Living, where JDC provides assistance to the elderly and disabled, and World ORT’s Kadima Mada Kav-Or program, which ensures hospitalized children can continue their education in the midst of medical treatment. In Sderot, the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) will talk about how the Federation community enables them to aid those dealing with the recent violence, and resulting trauma, in Southern Israel.
“Despite the ceasefire, it is important to go to Israel now to show our continued support. Just because the rockets have stopped does not mean the trauma has ended,” said Marc N. Blattner, CEO and president at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, and one of the mission’s leaders. “We must provide a comforting and supportive shoulder not only when our mishpocha (extended family) in Israel is in crisis but also during times of quiet.”
The group is the second JFNA mission to visit Israel since Operation Pillar of Defense began. In the midst of the eight-day military operation, a group of 15 Jewish Federation and other Jewish community leaders traveled to Southern Israel to assess the needs on the ground and see firsthand the work of our partner agencies. In between ducking for cover as air-raid sirens sounded, the lay and professional leaders visited children, elderly, new immigrants and other Southern Israelis, including family members of some of those killed by rocket fire just days earlier.
Although a cease-fire has since gone into effect, many Israelis continue to feel the impacts of the violence. The Israel Terror Relief Fund, set up by JFNA, continues to address the most critical needs in Israel, in collaboration with our partners, The Jewish Agency, JDC, World ORT and the ITC. With support from the broader North American Jewish community, the fund is helping children, people with disabilities and special needs, seniors and families who are victims of terror.
Interested donors can also text ISRAEL to 51818 to donate to the fund. More information on the Israel Terror Relief Fund can be found on JFNA’s resource page.