Canada House Community Center. Sderot, Israel. May 11, 2023.
This has been a difficult week for our global Jewish family. We’re writing today to update you on what’s happened and how our Toronto Jewish community is helping.
Over the past two days, terrorists in Gaza have fired more than 800 rockets and mortars at Israel. The attacks have sent millions into bomb shelters, causing extensive trauma, dozens of injuries, and—just a short time ago—killing at least one Israeli in the city of Rehovot. This comes on the heels of a terrorist attack on the El Ghriba Synagogue in Tunisia on Tuesday, in which five people were murdered and multiple others injured.
Now and always, we stand with Israelis and Jews worldwide. We mourn the loss of innocent life, pray for the wounded, and support the right of Israelis to protect their children from terrorism. But solidarity also means taking action to help those who are hurting. Here are just three of the many ways we’re helping, thanks to the generosity of thousands of UJA donors.
Strengthening resilience in Sderot. Just one kilometre from Gaza, our partner city of Sderot has suffered horrific rocket fire. When we began supporting Sderot in 2006, one of the first things UJA did was invest in bomb-proofing its physical infrastructure. This included building a second, reinforced storey on a local community centre—now called the Canada House Community Center—to ensure it could be safely enjoyed by residents. Today, Canada House was directly struck by a rocket, which did not penetrate the building thanks to our community’s investment.
Supporting mental health in Sderot. For thousands of children and youth in Sderot, the past 48 hours have brought renewed trauma and anxiety. Through the UJA-funded Sderot Resilience Center, we are providing online therapy to children as they spend hours in bomb shelters, including art therapy and psychological care. For parents and children alike, these services are making a world of difference in getting through these difficult hours.
Emergency aid for victims of terrorism. Through The Jewish Agency's Fund for Victims of Terror, we provide immediate payments to those directly impacted by terror. Delivered within 24-48 hours, funding helps cover emergency expenses in the aftermath of an attack. This program is now being used to help the families of those murdered while attending services in Tunisia. In Israel, as in previous conflicts, the Fund will be assisting the victims of rocket strikes throughout the country.
Thank you to all in our community who are making this emergency response possible. Your generosity is sending the important message that Israelis and Jews worldwide are not alone in their hour of need.
The situation in Israel is continuing to rapidly evolve. We hope that Israelis will soon see peace and security, which are the rights of all nations. We also empathize with those civilians in Gaza who do not support the actions of Palestinian terror groups—recognizing that every missile fired on Israel today poses a threat to innocent life in Israel and Gaza alike.
May the coming hours bring better news.