In Keeping Our Community Together, Age is not the Limit
More Israel Updates From Our Partners
May 14, 2021
Jewish Federation Responds to Israel Crisis
This Federation-funded organization recruits volunteers dedicated to safeguarding the land and farms in the Negev and Galilee from agricultural theft. In response to the crisis, they are mobilizing as many volunteers as possible to reduce pressure on the police and reinforce the presence in the fields, in the periphery and in the cities.
Director of Resource Development Maya Arfi writes, “We are witnessing an escalating rage against our homeland security in all areas of Israel. As we speak, arsons are setting the North of Israel on fire, more than 15 towns in the north are suffering major violent outbursts.”
A shared technology learning center for Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis funded in part by Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, MOONA seeks to build shared society through learning. CEO Asaf Brimer writes, “You have all no doubt seen the highly disturbing events of the past few days here. Though very upsetting, we know they will subside, and we hope this happens sooner rather than later.
“Though it is often hard to see during times like these, these events and disturbances, though dramatic and very disturbing, are the work of a proportionally very small group of people who do not represent the communities in which they have wreaked so much damage. In much of the country (sadly, largely invisible), cooperative relations between Jewish and Arab Israelis remains very much intact. Constant communications of friends and neighbors, organizations and committees check in on each other and make sure everyone is keeping safe."
Asaf Brimer, CEO and co-founder, Moona
“At Moona, our current cohorts of engineering trainees (60 of them, this quarter) are continuing as always to meet and work together. These are engineering professionals, Jewish and Arab, who are meeting in teams (at present in the Arab villages of Majd Al Kurum and Kfar Qassem where we have our current lab training facilities) to pursue collaborative advanced manufacturing projects together. As we enter the coming holidays of Eid el Fitr and Shavuot, we pray for a return, as a country, to quieter days in which the cooperation which has characterized relations on the national level for years returns once again to the headlines. In the meantime, as always, we thank you all for your abiding concern and support.”
Jewish Federation helps to fund Orr Shalom, an Israeli non-profit caring for at-risk children of all religions and backgrounds. Thanks in part to this outside funding, hundreds of children living in Orr Shalom housing have moved into their homes’ bomb shelters. Nevertheless, many of the children are terrified, and constant bomb sirens and explosions make it hard to leave the shelter or even to use the bathroom in some areas of Israel. Orr Shalom will need extra help with therapy for the traumatized children in the coming weeks and months.
Hand In Hand In the Galilee
This Federation-funded school in the Israeli city of Eshbal near our Partnership2Gether region, one of seven Hand In Hand regions, provides bilingual K-12 education in Hebrew and Arabic dedicated to shared society. Hand in Hand’s Galilee community organizes activities aimed at deepening social ties and addressing social tensions, including dialogue sessions for adults, Arabic language classes, holiday celebrations, movie nights, photography exhibitions, and much more.
Hand In Hand issued the following statement on the current crisis:
“We in Israel are facing an unprecedented situation. Our Hand in Hand schools and communities are doing everything possible to stay true to the mission of equality and a shared society, and to honor the belief that this path will - indeed it must - prevail. Precisely at this time we hold steadfast to this hope, to our practice of cooperation and partnership, and to our commitment to model what is possible in this country.”
ERAN offers an emotional first aid service through a confidential 24-hour phone hotline and internet chat line in English, Russian, Amharic, French and Spanish, staffed 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Trained volunteers at this non-governmental organization, which receives funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, help all residents of Israel in emotional distress.
ERAN reports that the expansion of rocket fire into the Gaza Strip to the south and the center has caused the number of anxious civilians at the ERAN aid line to skyrocket. On Monday night, the ERAN volunteers and professionals handled over 3,200 distress calls. Volunteers also woke up Friday morning with a load of phone calls, chats, and WhatsApp messages.
“Anxiety and stress are well visible and emanate through the lines. Moreover, that many inquiries came from civilians who were in protected areas and feared for their lives when their residential areas were being bombed, alongside parents caring for their children serving in the IDF and single older adults who need someone to listen and to reassure them from the other side of the line.”
Dr. Shiri Daniels, ERAN’s national professional director.
Daniels continued, “ERAN’s dedicated line operates in cooperation with the Israeli Coalition for Trauma ERAN functions as a front-line emergency room for the mental distress of ‘Klal Israel.’ The Beit Jan local authority chose to advertise the ERAN at the village entrance to the authority building.”
Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)
Our Federation-funded overseas partner JAFI provided an update on their many activities to help terror victims and those experiencing trauma:
“I want to share with you the heartfelt account from our CEO and Director General, Amira Ahronoviz, who traveled to Ashkelon on Tuesday amidst the barrage of rockets, visiting a Jewish Agency Aliyah Center and Amigour housing complex, and meeting with our dedicated staff and new olim (immigrants) there.
“Just a day later, that very same center suffered a direct hit in its parking lot. Thank G-d, the new olim, mostly just arriving from Ethiopia about a month ago, got to the bomb shelters just in time, except for one oleh who was at the entrance gate to the center and suffers shrapnel wounds to his leg. The office windows were completely smashed by the shrapnel and so were many window blinds in the olim apartments.
“So far, with the support of our partners, The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for Victims of Terror has disbursed over 50 grants to individuals and families affected. As the rocket attacks remain ongoing, causing destruction, injuries and loss of life, we very unfortunately anticipate more grants will be needed. “