American Jews have not been standing by idly, waiting to see what happens in the next few weeks. From two news reports, the activities of the United Jewish Communities in this country:
The Jewish community in the United States is launching a fundraising campaign to raise $250 million to $300 million in aid for northern Israeli residents. The family of abducted soldier Ehud Goldwasser will leave shortly for the U.S. to appear before donors. The campaign, initiated by the United Jewish Communities (UJC), is similar to the one that took place during the wave of suicide bombings in Israel, when a similar sum was raised, which was used mainly to guard schools and purchase emergency medical equipment, among other items. UJC’s Israel director Nahman Shai said yesterday that since the fighting had broken out, the UJC had already pledged $30 million for children’s summer camps, equipment for shelters and for weak sectors of the population.
The UJA Federation of New York will announce the opening of an emergency campaign today to raise $60 million for the residents of the north.
The Federation is also to immediately transfer $10 million to fund stays in the center of the country for some 12,000 children from northern communities, and to provide assistance to widows, orphans and Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
Federation CEO John Ruskay said trauma experts believed that more than half a million children in the north could suffer from post-traumatic stress as a result of the war.
Jewish Agency chairman Zeev Bielski yesterday announced the transfer of NIS 25 million to improve conditions in shelters serving some 10,000 people.
The money, which was raised from Jews in Israel and abroad will be used to purchase and install air conditioners, televisions, emergency lighting and toilets. Bielski noted that a great deal of the work would be implemented in the region’s non-Jewish communities.
The USD 10 million emergency appropriation will provide both immediate needs for those in impacted areas of Israel as well as longer terms needs, a statement issued by the organization said.
The funds will be used to help the thousands of evacuee families, including an estimated 12,000 children by providing safe locations for a summer camp experience; direct aid will also be provided to widows and orphans of fallen Israeli soldiers, the statement said.
According to the UJA, trauma experts say that 500,000 to 600,000 children will suffer post- traumatic stress disorder along with Holocaust survivors who are reliving their nightmares, the elderly, and immigrants who have no support system.
“After personally witnessing the magnitude of this tragedy, we recognized that we needed to respond swiftly with a comprehensive approach, including this USD 60 million Israel Emergency Campaign,” explained Merryl Tisch, campaign co-chair, UJA-Federation of New York.
“As a provider of essential humanitarian services in Israel, we will work with our established partners on the ground, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and the Israel Trauma Coalition,” said John Shapiro, campaign co-chair, adding, “We are calling on the compassion and generosity of the New York Jewish community to help our brothers and sisters in Israel at this difficult time.”
In addition, the UJA-Federation said it is planning a Solidarity Mission to Israel from August 20 through 25to send a powerful message of support in person. Mission participants will meet with top officials and the people from throughout the country who have been affected by the devastation.
Think about it: the children growing up in Israel having been living with trauma for more than sixty years. If you think it’s a condition easily outgrown, visit this site. I especially recommend Dr. Perry in the “Articles” Section, since he has done so much research on the effects of trauma on children.
If you want to donate, click on the Ynet story and follow the links to some of the organizations involved. It’s the least — and perhaps the only thing — we can do.