Message from the IAJF Board of Trustees
In the summer of 2014 Operation Protective Edge by Israel lasted fifty days during which IDF soldiers were engaged in combat operations inside the Gaza Strip. During this period Hamas terrorists fired more than 4,595 rockets towards Israel's population centers especially in the south resulting in five civilian deaths, property damage and emotional hardship upon all Israelis. Most disheartening was the loss of 67 young IDF soldiers in ground operations in search of hidden underground tunnels inside Gaza. Notwithstanding the implementation of the cease fire between Israel and Hamas, the negative economic and emotional impact of seven weeks of war on Israeli citizens and soldiers continues. IAJF is committed to supporting Israel during these trying times by focusing its attention and resources toward Israel' current needs.
Thanks to our generous and committed donors, IAJF has raised and donated $750,000 in emergency funds to organizations in Israel in support of soldiers, children, the disabled and the elderly, especially in Southern Israel. We have also supported trauma victims, needy mourners, and those organizations who work to save and rehabilitate lives devastated by the war.
We wish to thank the community for its generosity and incredible support during these critical times. Below are updates with details on our emergency response and the use of your contributions.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Israel.
Board of Trustees
Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York
The IDF has mobilized his troops across the country and over 50,000 reserve soldiers to support Operation Protective Edge. A little comfort in the battlefield can make a large difference for these brave men and women. The IAJF has sponsored FIDF's care packages for over 1,500 soldiers, which include snack packages, toiletry kits, and undergarments kits - basic necessities that these soldiers did not have the time or the resources to gather before being deployed. The IAJF also provided funds to support the FIDF's Legacy program for widows and orphans of soldiers who lost their lives in defense of Israel during this operation. Helping these bereaved families to make sense of their new reality, connect with peers who have also suffered a terrible loss, helping them celebrate holidays and life cycle events, and more.
OneFamily Fund has supported injured and bereaved families in southern Israel. It offered calls and home-visits, it evacuated hundreds victims of terror to date and sent them away for 3-day therapeutic retreat, provided refuge for families wishing to leave the south, and provided financial aid and initial emergency assistance where necessary. IAJF's support was directed toward a therapeutic respite retreat hosted for 100 families from Sderot, a city located just 840 meters from the border with Gaza. These three days allowed the family to regroup, regain composure, receive therapy, and sleep safely for a few hours.
Bereaved Families have made the ultimate sacrifice. The IAJF partnered with One Family to extend the support given to needy bereaved families by offering a special grant to them. This unique grant will be tailored to the needs of each family, providing financial support for basic necessities, food, educational programs and scholarships, memorials in honor of their beloved one, therapeutic seminars, family retreats and more.
The Eshkol Regional Council is located in the in the Western Negev and borders on the Gaza strip and Egypt and is home to 13,500 residents. During the war, over 1327 of the missiles launched at Israel have targeted the Eshkol Region. Because of its proximity to Gaza, the residents of Eshkol have very little time to seek safety when a missile is launched. The IAJF sponsored 80 buses to relocate some of the residents of Eshkol to safer areas in Israel during the war. The following quotation is a testament for the essential use of your contribution: "The children of Kibbutz Ze'elim went to a one day trip to the Zoo in Jerusalem. For the past 3 weeks, these children where closed at their preschool, having only indoors activities due to the security situation. Thank you so much for allowing them to have such an experience." After the war, the IAJF immediately helped to protect the children by sponsoring three new playground facilities, each near a fortified safe room. Research and experience have both proven that interesting playgrounds offer the perfect basis for carefree playing. Children are able to forget their fears and feel protected.
The Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council has 7600 residents who live near the Gaza Strip. Due to its close proximity to the border its residents are exposed to incursion attempts by Hamas terrorists and direct mortar/rocket fire on homes and other property. Children are being born into a reality of warfare. Therefore, security must be taken into consideration. The Israeli government has decided to build 20 blast-proof daycare centers for the 900 children and 160 teaching staff in the school system. Each daycare center will be comprised of two classrooms and an outdoor playground. The IAJF partnered with the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council to strengthen the community by sponsoring indoor equipment and playgrounds at four new day care centers to be built in 2014.
UJA-Federation of New York has provided critical support through it's agencies and partners on the ground in Israel: taking children, families and disabled people out of the affected war zone and providing much needed respite; providing food, medicine, and care to the elderly and infirm and those unable to leave their homes in the South; offering crisis counseling and answering thousands of calls to hotlines from those overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. The IAJF immediately supported the UJA-Federation Israel Emergency Fund to help with these critical services.
Amigour is one of Israel's leading organizations providing sheltered housing for the elderly. There are 650,000 Israelis over the age of 65, many of whom live close to the poverty line and cannot afford to purchase or even rent sustainable housing. During Operation Protective Edge, Amigour homes in the south have suffered direct hits while physical limitations of the senior residents prevented their access to bomb shelters. The seniors rather remained in their apartments or walked to the stairwells on their floor when a siren was sounded. Amigour Sheltered Home in Beersheba is composed of two separate, four story buildings that accommodate 69 elderly residents, new immigrants, and Holocaust survivors. To provide protection for elderly residents and as a response to the latest crisis, the IAJF sponsored a new safe room, out of four, being constructed in the Amigour Shelter Home in Beersheba.
Israel's Scouts Movement (Tzofim) is the largest youth movement in Israel, which involves thousands of teenagers in Israel and around the world. During Operation Protective Edge, over 4,000 children and teenagers, from southern Israel, participated in the activities organized by the Scouts' volunteers in bomb-shelters. Additionally, forty buses full of teenagers went on different day-long retreats, seminars, and short camps in order to give the youngsters and their families a short break from the harsh reality. IAJF sponsored nine buses to transport 400 kids to retreats in central and northern Israel. Each group enjoyed indoor and outdoor recreational activities. For some of the children, this time was the only time playing freely away from a bomb shelter during the summer.
ALUT-The Israeli National Autism Association operates centers in Beer Sheva for teenagers and infants with severe autism. During the war hundreds of rockets attacked Beer Sheva. The teenagers at the center have 20 seconds to run to the shelters, timing which is almost not possible due to their condition. Even those whom suffer from severe autism have to sleep in tiny shelters. IAJF provided funds to increase the number of staff members at the center; to transport staff that assist families of autistic infants in their own home while Alut nursery school in Beer Sheva is closed; and to support afterschool activities inside the shelters.
NATAL - Trauma Centers for Victims of Terror and War has been crucial during this time of need, as the rockets launched into Israel have placed over 5 million Israelis under threat of such attacks. Although Iron Dome has intercepted some of these rockets, many have not. The children, adults, and elderly are living in a state of fear and unpredictability. Many suffer from acute traumatic reactions. This requires urgent attention in order to prevent long term and potentially debilitating emotional consequences. The IAJF immediately provided support to NATAL while its Community Outreach Team of therapists is on the ground as first responders, providing critical emergency emotional assistance. At the same time, NATAL works in communities throughout Israel, providing essential programming to support, strengthen, and build resiliency of the Israeli public.
ZAKA is Israel's leading volunteer agency dealing with search, rescue & recovery. During every rocket attack, ZAKA volunteers have been rushing to the scene, combing the area for any injuries and provide humanitarian assistance where needed. IAJF's grant was used to purchase essential emergency lifesaving equipment; oxygen tanks and first aid equipment for volunteers working on the front lines in the South, particularly communities close to the Gaza border, which are exposed to the non-stop rocket barrage.
Magen David Adom (MDA) has always been the forefront of Israel's national rescue efforts. The IAJF sponsored emergency medical supplies and blood service center supplies directed to help soldiers and those in southern Israel who have suffered daily from the rocket attacks.