8.22.14 Issue

by Sherrie Saag, Commications, Jewish Federation of Omaha

At Press deadline, a ceasefire appears to be holding between Israel and Hamas. As the situation continues to evolve, the Jewish State’s military operation remains on high alert and the Jewish Federation of North America’s Stop the Sirens Emergency Campaign is continuing.

On August 13, JFNA’s Emergency Response Allocations Committee for Operation Protective Edge met and allocated another $4.4 million to provide trauma support for vulnerable populations and first responders, as well as funding to help the most impacted communities bounce back and rebuild. To date, its total allocations are $16.8 million.

The Jewish Federation of Omaha, together with the JFNA, and the national Federated movement, mobilized its resources to provide critical aid to the people of Israel. In mid-July each and every local Jewish Federation was asked to contribute their fair share towards relief efforts and the Jewish Federation of Omaha made its commitment of $23,500, funded through reserve resources.

Our community’s Rally for Israel on July 16 re-affirmed our solidarity and commitment to Israel and provided information for individuals who wished to make their own donations in support of the emergency campaign. According to the JFO Development Department, to date, the Omaha response is overwhelming, with almost $30,000 donated.

Jewish Omaha donations during Operation Protective Edge provided meals for Israeli soldiers.

Jewish Omaha donations during Operation Protective Edge provided meals for Israeli soldiers.

In those first few terrifying weeks, it became apparent that the movement of Israeli citizens out of harm’s way in the South was critical. The call for respite and care for those in greatest peril was heard by Jews around the world. In response, the Federation announced on July 31 that three additional financial commitments were being made to our Partnership region in the Western Galilee:

• $6000 to Kivunim to host adults with disabilities from Sderot for three days of respite and care in the Western Galilee.

• $6000 to the Matte Asher Regional Council for protective vests and helmets for volunteer security patrols.

• $10,000 to the Akko Welfare Department to install air conditioning units in area bomb shelters.

At the time, Jody Malashock, chair of our community’s Israel Overseas Committee had this to say: “I am so incredibly proud of our Omaha community for their generosity and open hearts towards the people of Israel. Their strong will and resolve in the face of true terror serves as an inspiration to all of us.”

100 percent of these funds went to necessary, life-saving and life-sustaining items and programs that truly made life a little bit better in the short-term.

For example, earlier this month, 10 members of Kivunim’s “Wings” program in Sderot enjoyed a respite program in the Western Galilee. “Wings” provides young people with disabilities to be independent, learn critical employment skills, and, if possible, provide resources to serve Israel outside traditional Army service.

These young adults participated in a cooking workshop and afterwards delivered meals they prepared to IDF soldiers. They also spent time in Nahariya for a much needed break with “Wings” participants from HaGalil.

As JFNA contemplates the next phase of needs facing the Israeli people, funds raised by Federations across the country are expected to address the following:

Immediate Recovery for Israel’s South – support will focus on restoring normalcy to day-to-day activities, providing trauma support and psychological counseling, respite for first-line responders, facilitating economic recovery to the region.

Long Term National Recovery – support the planning and preparation of relief efforts for other areas of the country. The main challenges to be addressed are community resilience, training of first-line responders, emergency preparedness at the local level and ongoing trauma support.

The drive and determination to support the State of Israel continues unabated as the Federation movement recognizes that the situation is not yet stabilized and there will be serious mid/long-term ramifications facing the Israeli people.

You can contribute to JFNA’s Stop the Sirens Emergency Campaign by sending a check to the Jewish Federation of Omaha, Sharon Kirshenbaum, Campaign Director, 333 South 132nd Street, Omaha, NE 68154. You can also go to www.jewishomaha.com, click on the link located on the Stop the Sirens banner. All contributions are tax deductible and 100 percent of your donation will go towards addressing immediate needs.