It is that time of the year when we want to make the most out of the final weeks of the summer. Many people are enjoying vacations…offices seem quieter…and people are enjoying the beautiful weather. Unfortunately, these summer weeks have been unsettling in Israel. The sirens are now continuing. In fact, over 375 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Hamas broke the cease-fire three days ago (including 70 just this morning). And today, we learned of a rocket landing on a synagogue in Ashdod and one landing near an active pre-school in Eshkol.
As you know, our community has set-up a Stop the Sirens Israel Emergency Fund. To date, I am pleased to report our community has raised $119,126. This money has all been sent to our Federation partners in Israel and is already being put to use. Yet, more will be needed.
I mentioned several weeks ago that I was honored to be one of 12 people serving on the National Emergency Response Allocations Committee for funds raised by the North American Jewish Federation system. In the first weeks of the conflict in Israel, we allocated $12.4 million to address the immediate needs of the most vulnerable Israelis in the south and elsewhere. But our work was not done. Over the last two weeks, tenuous ceasefires were put in place, and the committee turned its attention to helping individuals and communities get back on their feet. Now, as rocket fire resumes again in the south, it is unclear if this latest episode will be short-lived, or if Israel will see sustained rocket fire for a long period of time.
As we pray for calm, the Jewish Federation system has begun to address some of the long-term effects on those who have been living under fire. The first responders who have been working around the clock on the front lines need a respite. The communities need assistance rebounding and rebuilding.
As such, last week the committee allocated an additional $4.4 million to provide ongoing trauma support for all Israelis, particularly those most directly affected by the conflict, and to strengthen individual and community resilience and stimulate economic recovery. This new round of allocations is intended to help our partner agencies provide services for these groups from now through to the High Holidays.
As the situation on the ground intensifies, particularly in light of this most recent escalation of violence, the committee will work with municipal leaders and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) to reassess needs, and determine how Federation resources can be best deployed to meet them.
To be transparent with our donors, here is a brief snapshot of how the dollars from North American Jewish Federations (including ours) have been allocated:
Operation Protective Edge -- Total Allocations to Date = $16.8 million
Phase I: Active Conflict (To Date: $12.4 million)
Phase II: Immediate Recovery for Israel’s South (To Date: $4.4 million)
Here is also an infographic that explains the situation and funding.
Let’s pray that in the days ahead quiet is restored.
On happier notes…This Sunday, come and see the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland and other Jewish organizations at Southeast Sunday Parkways at Laurelhurst Park. It should be a beautiful day to enjoy the community.
Don’t forget to sign-up and volunteer for Super Sunday on September 14, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center. It is a true day of community building. Help the Jewish Federation get this year’s community campaign off to a great start. Our Chairs, Amara and Brian Norman, need your support and want to see you there. Register here.
Finally, I want to wish the best to the Jewish Federation sponsored Hood to Coast team. The race began this morning at Mt. Hood and ends Saturday at Seaside. I understand there will be more than 17,000 runners and walkers. May they all be safe and enjoy the experience.