Impact Stories:

Happy 75th, Israel!

At the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, we believe in the unity of the Jewish people. 

Yemenite Jews
Rescued through UJA support of Operation Magic Carpet
Raised by UJA
To initiate Passage to Freedom for Soviet aliyah
Flee Russian invasion with Federation support

On Wednesday, April 26th, Israel celebrates 75 years of independence. Even during these tumultuous times, we are reminded that Israel is our shared homeland. Your support has been critical for Israel to thrive. Learn how you made an impact over the past three quarters of a century.

We are proud of the nearly 100 years of Federation (formerly UJA) investment that helped establish the Jewish State and continues to support Israel through building infrastructure, protecting the country’s most vulnerable citizens, supporting aliyah and absorption of immigrants, and advocating for an inclusive, pluralistic society.

1948: Some 50,000 newcomers, mainly Holocaust survivors, reach Israel's shores thanks to funds raised by UJA Federation campaigns.

1948-49: Through Operation Magic Carpet, the UJA Federation Campaign helps rescue more than 50,000 Yemenite Jews. Campaign funds also bring 125,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel on Operation Ezra.

1964: Israel Education Fund (IEF) is created as a supplementary UJA major gifts program to fund capital projects, social programs and scholarships in Israel. Since its founding, IEF has built more than 1,000 high schools, day care centers, senior citizens centers, libraries, sports facilities and regional colleges.

1985: In Operation Moses, UJA Federation Campaign helps rescue 7,000 Ethiopian Jews.

1986: Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky arrives in Israel; UJA joins 250,000 in a Washington Freedom Rally to pressure the USSR to free other Soviet Jews.

1987: A UIA Assembly resolution directs the Jewish Agency to support programs fostering religious pluralism in Israel.

1989: UJA initiates Passage to Freedom, raising $46 million for Soviet Aliya

1990: Operation Exodus, which will become the largest emergency fund-raising event in Jewish history, is officially born. UJA funds help more than 185,200 reach freedom in the Jewish homeland.

2001: The Ethiopian National Project (ENP), a partnership between UJC, the Jewish Agency, JDC, the government of Israel and the Ethiopian-Israeli community, is launched to facilitate the successful absorption of Ethiopian immigrants in all spheres of Israeli society

2002: In response to relentless terror, UJC and the Federations of North America launch the Israel Emergency Campaign, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for critical needs including security, life-saving medical equipment, and financial help and trauma relief for terror victims.

2003: Help launch Masa, to encourage Jewish youth to spend a semester or a year in Israel and help them build a life-long relationship with Israel and a firm commitment to Jewish life.

2005: UJC and the Federations of North America undertake Operation Promise, an ambitious effort to raise millions of dollars to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, help mainstream the Ethiopian-Israeli community, feed poor, elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union and strengthen Jewish identity among young Jews there.

2006: In response to the war in Lebanon, UJC and the Federations of North America launch a second Israel Emergency Campaign, which provides trauma counseling, enrichment programs, and economic assistance to Israeli children and adults affected by the war. IEC continues to help vulnerable Israelis, including those on the front lines against Kassam rockets launched from Gaza. A total of $350 million dollars was pledged in the course of just five months. UJC helps found Sheatufim: The Israel Center for Civil Society, which works to strengthen the social vitality of Israel by developing and advancing a civil society that is pluralistic, proactive, influential, professional and collaborative. Other founding partners are Zionism 2000, the Sacta-Rashi Foundation and the Gandyr Foundation.

2008: During Hanukah, Israel begins Operation Cast Lead, a three-week military campaign aimed at stopping rocket fire from Gaza. Jewish Federations raise $7M to address immediate needs and to plan for long term resilience for the Israeli communities in the Gaza region.

2010: A massive fire in the Carmel Forest fire claims 44 lives, scorches more than 10,000 acres of pine forest and burns 100 homes and structures, making it the deadliest forest fire in Israeli history. More than 17,000 people are evacuated. In total, Jewish Federations raises and allocates some $2.7 million to help Israel respond and recover from the fires.

2012: Israel launches Operation Pillar of Defense, an eight-day military campaign sparked by an intense round of rocket fire from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilians. Once again, Jewish Federations open a fund to address immediate needs and to plan for long term resilience for the Israeli communities in the Gaza region.

2014: In response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers: Israel launches Operation Protective Edge, a military campaign against Hamas forces in Gaza that includes a ground invasion aimed at destroying Palestinian tunnels used to smuggle weapons into the coastal enclave and launch attacks against Israel. As in previous conflicts, Jewish Federations open a fund to address immediate needs and to plan for long term resilience for the Israeli communities in the region. More than $30M was allocated collectively by Federations.

2016: Five days of massive wildfires see 180 people injured, thousands of homes damaged or completely destroyed, hundreds of thousands of residents evacuated, and a total of 32,000 acres of natural forest land burned. Some $1.18 million is allocated by Federations to support urgent needs following the blazes.

2017: Religion and state issues, and the lack of religious pluralism in Israel, come to a head in 2017, particularly as the government votes to backtrack on its commitment to the Kotel Compromise that would have seen more equal access for all streams of Judaism at the Western Wall. Federations play a central role in negotiations and are active in efforts to ensure that all Jews feel at home and equal in the Jewish state.

2018: For months, southern Israel was under nearly constant attack by flaming kites and balloons launched from the Gaza strip to the neighboring Israeli fields and communities. The attacks caused hundreds of fires, destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli fields and forests and caused millions of shekels in damages. About $400,000 was allocated to help organizations working locally respond to the fires and to minimize the psychological consequences for the residents, in particular children.

2021: Israel launches Operation Guardian of the Walls, an eight-day military campaign sparked by rocket fire from Gaza towards Jerusalem and intercommunal violence within Israel. Jewish Federations open a fund to address immediate needs and to build resilience for the Israeli communities affected by the violence. $1.85 million was allocated to help Israel respond and recover.

2022: Federation’s collectively helped 15,000 Ukrainian olim fleeing from the Russian invasion. Operation Tzur Yisrael, renewing family reconciliation of Ethiopian Jews, began in 2021 and continues, again with Federation collective support.

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