Each year, thousands of community members unite for the Walk with Israel to show their support and solidarity, and to raise funds to help make Israel a better home for all. Last year, the timing of the Walk coincided with a wave of terrorism targeting Israel in May. UJA quickly shifted focus to create a Crisis Response Fund to help those who were impacted. With the support of a generous, anonymous matching donor, our community responded in an incredible way, as you always do.
Every dollar raised through last year’s Walk is being dedicated to helping Israelis overcome the trauma and devastation of last May. We are pleased to provide an update on four key investments we have made in the work of our partners on the ground in Israel.
Supporting Victims of Terrorism – $150,000
No Israeli should be alone in walking the path to recovery from terrorism. Run by our partner the Jewish Agency, the Fund for Victims of Terror offers timely financial aid to families who have been directly impacted by terrorism, within 48 hours of an attack taking place. At a moment of despair, this emergency aid is crucial in helping families pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, whether it is through supportive counselling, finding transitional housing, securing transportation, or covering immediate expenses that follow an attack.
Supporting Teen Community Resilience in Sderot – $120,000
Becoming empowered to respond during a crisis is exactly what the Israeli organization Gvanim (“Shades of Colour”) is teaching a new generation of youth leaders. On the doorstep of Gaza and a frequent target of rocket attacks, Sderot is referred to as the bomb shelter capital of the world. Through Sderot’s Youth Leadership Patrol program, teens learn how to provide hands-on support for their neighbours, whether it’s checking in on the elderly or assisting with the safety of residents living with disabilities. By preparing the city’s young people to lead in stressful moments, your gift is helping make the community even more resilient.
Supporting Mental Health in Sderot – $400,000
When the rocket fire finally ends, the threat to mental health doesn’t stop. Sadly, many Sderot residents experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and extreme emotional distress. As a core component of the work Gvanim leads, its Social Emotional Learning program trains hundreds of educators in the Sderot area to help children and youth overcome PTSD and other mental health issues. Not only do educators benefit from professional development, but as a result, the entire community becomes empowered when children receive proactive care for their mental health and well-being.
Supporting Young Adult Employment – $280,000
Living far from the cities of central Israel, and with the threat of ever-present terror attacks, young graduates from Sderot do not have access to the same economic opportunities as many Israelis. The Sderot Youth Centre is working to change that by better connecting 20- to 40-year-old residents to the job market through internship opportunities, subsidized courses, preparatory workshops, and teaching online skills. These interventions will set up young adults with the tools to unlock their career aspirations and provide incentives to stay in Sderot to continue contributing to the community.
A remaining $300,000 will be dedicated to funding resilience programs in Sderot over the next few years, as there is a need for sustained support for the people of this inspiring community.
We thank our generous donors and volunteers for stepping up for the people of Israel at this time of crisis. These important initiatives represent a small part of how UJA is helping to foster greater unity within Israel, helping vulnerable Jews make Aliyah from countries like Ukraine, and supporting our other partner communities of Eilat/Eilot and Bat Yam.
In emergency situations, there is a need for expertise and abilities that simply cannot be acquired overnight. During these times, UJA relies on the organizations that were there long before such crises began and will be there long after they are over. For Israelis who have endured the trauma and danger of terrorism that we can only imagine, the support of our donors and volunteers is making a profound difference.