Tuesday, November 20, 2012

THANK YOU for Showing Solidarity with Israel!

More than 1500 San Diegans representing 45 synagogues, schools and other Jewish organizations gathered peacefully on Sunday to show solidarity with the people of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, and to show support for the Israel’s right to self-defense. THANK YOU to all of our partners who collaborated in this genuine community effort, and to all of the San Diegans, religious and secular leaders who made it a priority to come together as a community in support of Israel and make our voices heard!

For great pictures of the event click here.

Over the last 10 days, more than 1,500 rockets have been fired at Israel, with 120 just yesterday. World leaders, particularly from the U.S. and Egypt, are working together to with Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas, to reach a ceasefire agreement, if possible. More than 110 rockets have been launched since Wednesday at our sister city for the past 14 years, Sha’ar Ha Negev. Kibbutzim Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz, Or Haner and Erez have been the main targets. Businesses and schools remain closed, including the Yitzchak Shavit High School, which the Jewish Federation supported through our generous donors, and which houses the Alexander Joseph Viterbi Art Center.

Hundreds of children have been bused out of the region through the Jewish Agency, though many residents have chosen to remain in the region. Tomorrow, 550 children and teens will be bused to other locales further from Gaza, and one bus of senior citizens will head to Jerusalem. Fortunately, only one person in Sha’ar HaNegev has been critically wounded, a firefighter who was responding to one kassam when another fell. Major issues include the limited size of shelters where many people are living full time, and the intense and chronic trauma that is prevalent. There also has been significant damage to homes, vehicles and businesses.

Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the network of 157 Federations in 300 communities throughout North America including the Jewish Federation of San Diego, has enacted its emergency protocol and is focusing its efforts on immediate relief to regions that have been under attack in Israel, direct services to vulnerable populations, and reinforcing local capacity under fire. JFNA is working with the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Social Welfare, mayors in the South, municipal and regional councils, RAHEL (Hebrew acronym for the Israeli Government’s National Emergency Authority within the Ministry of Home Defense), Israel Trauma Coalition and our partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel (Jewish Agency) and the American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) to continue to meet immediate crisis needs in the south of Israel, including Sha’ar HaNegev.

1. Donate to the Israel Terror Relief Fund
At this time, the news indicates that a ceasefire may be imminent. We hope this comes to pass, and leads to a lasting peace in the Middle East. However, a ceasefire will not erase the damage that has been done, and the needs that will continue to emerge from this devastating conflict.

As we sit around our respective Thanksgiving tables and count our blessings of home and health, love and friendship, let’s think of those whose thanks are focused on a brief respite from the air raid sirens and the threat of falling rockets. Our brothers and sisters in Israel need your support now. In a little more than the 15 seconds Israelis have to get to a bomb shelter once the alarms go off, you can make your gift today to the Israel Terror Relief Fund. Together we can help our overseas partners on the ground continue delivering immediate assistance. The needs are urgent. Your investments in helping Israel through this crisis are 100% tax deductible and 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to Israel.

Give Israelis hard hit by the current crisis even more to be thankful for.
2. Stay Informed - The better informed we are, the more intelligently we can speak to our friends and neighbors and take an active part in impacting public opinion. For continuing updates, please access the following links:

3. Send supportive messages to Sha’ar HaNegev

You can show support to our sister community in the south of Israel on our
Partnership2Gether Facebook page.

The Jewish Federation of San Diego today sent $50,000 in emergency funding from our reserves to the Israel Terror Relief Fund to help those most in need in the south of Israel. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of those who have suffered through this conflict and to our extended family in Sha'ar HaNegev. We fervently pray for them all, for their safety, for the safety of all Israelis, for a lasting peace and also for the safety of Palestinian civilians.

At the rally coordinated by Federation Sunday, we collected hundreds stuffed animals to help comfort the children of Sha’ar HaNegev as well as Palestinian children. These will be sent to the region this week.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving this year, we can count on the blessing of a strong Jewish community to help those who are less fortunate at home and around the world. As we think about our cherished family members, let’s also take a few moments to help our brothers and sisters in Israel rebuild their lives by giving to the Israel Terror Relief Fund. Together, we do extraordinary things.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving,
Claire Ellman
Board Chair, Jewish Federation of San Diego County

Michael Sonduck
Interim President & CEO,
Jewish Federation of San Diego County

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