Friday, November 2, 2012

Your Dollars Do Make a Difference!

Written by: Debbie Kornberg, Director, Israel & Overseas Center 
Debbie Kornberg and Sha'ar HaNegev 
Mayor Alon Schuster

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be in Israel for 10 days. More specifically, I had the opportunity to spend some significant time in our sister community of Sha’ar HaNegev located along the border of Gaza. My purpose was to see firsthand how our Federation dollars support and impact our partnering agencies in Israel including the Regional Council of Sha’ar HaNegev, IBIM, the Jewish Agency, the JDC and JITLI. I was able to have face to face conversations with people I usually only communicate with via email or at best Skype on the computer. It was powerful to see the amazing achievements our partnering agencies are able to make through our community’s unified commitment to supporting Israel. Our impact has great breadth and depth, from reaching new Ethiopians Jews arriving at IBIM in Sha’ar HaNegev through the work of the Jewish Agency to the work of the JDC who help Haredi Jews find career paths so they may contribute to Israeli society. 

One of the realizations I had on my trip is that sometimes we cannot always understand the power of how our support affects people. During my time in Sha’ar HaNegev, I visited a kindergarten music therapy program. All kindergarten classes have this music class which serves, on the surface, as a music appreciation class, but on a deeper level serves as a place for children to be able to express their inner feelings. It is a place where they are able to deal with the emotional side of living in a difficult and volatile security situation being so close to the Gaza border. These children learn at an early age that where they live they have has only 15 seconds to find a safety room to take cover when a siren goes off, “red alert”. To any parent, one can only worry about the traumatic stress children must feel very time the red alert siren is sounded or even the anxiety of when the siren might go off. My last day in Israel, the one thing everyone worries about in Sha’ar HaNegev happened – “Tzeva Adom” “Red Alert”.

Adi in Music Class
On this particular day, it happened not just once but over 70 times as kassam rockets showered in and around the Sha’ar HaNegev Region. School was cancelled for all students and families were forced to stay by their “safe room” in their home where the walls are reinforced so they are protected from the kassam rockets. While the Iron Dome was able to stop 9 kassams from having direct hits in the region, there were two homes in Sha’ar HaNegev that were severely damaged. One was on Kibbutz Nachal Oz and the other was on Kibbutz Kfar Aza which was the home of one of the 5 year olds, named Adi, whom I had visited during her music class just days prior. It was after seeing pictures of her home that it became immensely clear how vital these programs are in the region. For 5 year old Adi, while she will have to deal with the trauma, she will also have a place to express her feelings.

Our Federation dollars do make a difference through the many projects and programs we support. Whether it is here in the States helping families through Super Storm Sandy or simply music programs like the one I was blessed to witness first hand in Sha’ar HaNegev, together our contributions do make not only a difference in the lives of others, but can make the difference.

Adi's Home in Sha'ar HaNegev, after a kassam attack

Adi's living room in Sha'ar HaNegev, after kassam attack

To learn more about Federation's life saving work in Sha'ar HaNegev - click here.



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