Supporting Israelis in this Time of Crisis

As I write this update, the people of Israel are once again confronting a vicious threat to their children, families, and the entire country.

Over the past few days, Hamas has escalated its campaign of terror against Israelis. This began with violent riots in the Old City of Jerusalem, including on the Temple Mount. It grew into a brazen rocket attack targeting Israel’s capital, yesterday on Jerusalem Day. And over the past 24+ hours, it has further escalated with terror groups in Gaza firing multiple barrages of rockets at the residents of southern and central Israel – including 137 rockets in the span of just five minutes at one point.

We are deeply saddened and outraged that multiple Israelis and at least one foreign national were murdered in today’s attacks. So too, we are gravely concerned by the many images, videos, and stories coming out of Israel this evening. Perhaps most heartbreaking are media reports that the injured include children and elderly Israelis who were not able to reach shelter in time.

This week and always, we reaffirm with pride that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel. But actions speak louder than words, and we also wanted to update you on the various measures we have taken – this week and over the years – that are helping to make a difference in this moment of crisis. In particular, we wanted to update you on three key areas:

  • Supporting Israeli victims of terrorism. Through UJA’s funding for the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), we are enabling the agency’s Victims of Terror Fund to deliver emergency financial aid to Israelis. This week, funds are being deployed to help Israelis who have suffered the worst of the rocket attacks. This includes, to name just a few examples:
    • A family whose home suffered a direct rocket strike last night at the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council;
    • A family in Ashkelon that was injured in a rocket attack and suffered damage to their home. The father of this family remains in hospital where he is receiving treatment for his wounds;
    • An elderly man in Ashkelon who is now in hospital recovery from injuries; and
    • Four additional families in Ashkelon that, while uninjured, can no longer remain in their homes due to extensive rocket damage.
  • Strengthening resilience in Sderot. Since 2007, UJA has worked with our partner community of Sderot to help make life easier and safer for the residents of this special community, located just one mile from the Gaza border. We recognized a massive gap in the area of mental health, especially in light of the alarmingly high rate of PTSD among residents. Over the past 14 years, we have helped build a strong and sophisticated network of mental health supports, the hub of which is the Sderot Resilience Center. This week, the work of the Center has been essential in helping local residents get through these terrifying days. It is continuing to provide an emotional safety net for area residents, including one-on-one counselling, proactive outreach, and specialized programs to build resilience among local leaders, parents, and youth.
  • Advocacy to share the truth about this conflict with our fellow Canadians. As proud Jews and proud Canadians, we have a unique perspective to share on this issue. We also have a democratic right and responsibility to make our voice heard. Through our advocacy agent, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), we are in constant communication with government officials, media, and leaders throughout Canadian society to share the truth about the rapidly evolving situation in Israel.

CIJA has also launched an action alert to mobilize thousands of community members to urge the Government of Canada to stand with our ally Israel. Now more than ever, we must remind Canadians that there can be no moral equivocation between a democracy that defends its citizens and a terror group that attacks children and seniors while using its own civilians as human shields. If you can spare two minutes, please join CIJA in sending a strong message to our elected officials. CLICK HERE.

Through UJA partners that are working to address various aspects of this challenge, we have also identified three unique opportunities for community members to learn more and delve deeper into these issues:

  • Ambassador Dr. Michael Oren and the Jewish Agency for Israel Chair Isaac Herzog held a briefing today on the current situation on the ground in Israel - click here to access a recording.
  • Shimon Koffler Fogel, President & CEO of UJA’s advocacy agent the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), will brief our community on the Canadian political and policy aspects of this issue, sharing insights into CIJA’s strategic advocacy and how community members can play a vital role. This will take place Wednesday, May 12 at 7:00pm Eastern – click here to register for our webinar.
  • Canadian-raised former MK and international law expert Michal Cotler-Wunsh will be briefing the Jewish Federations of North America on the causes behind the escalation in violence. This will take place Thursday, May 13 at 12:00pm Eastern – click here to register.

Our team in Israel continues to closely monitor the situation on the ground, in concert with our network. Through it all, our message to our Israeli partners has been clear: As events evolve, UJA and Toronto’s Jewish community will be with you every step of the way. We are ready to deliver any additional support we can to bolster their life-changing work – and help the people of Israel get through this crisis.

Adam Minsky, President & CEO
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto