Soon after Hezbollah declared war on Israel, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia activated its Israel Emergency Fund to help provide the initial $2 million that was immediately sent to communities in northern Israel.
"Federation has a two-pronged approach in its efforts to assist Israel," said Jeri Zimmerman, director of Federation's Center for Israel and Overseas. "One is to provide rapid help to those facing attacks in Israel's northern areas. Money from the IEF has joined relief efforts from North American federations, and Federation's national and international partners: United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Agency for Israel."
These funds are being directed to JAFI and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to support the evacuation of children from northern communities to safer areas in the south, where they can attend summer camp; to the elderly and at-risk populations being offered trauma relief in day-care centers; and support to trauma victims, as well as recent immigrants.
The second part of Federation's effort is to take a strategic approach, "mobilizing the community to express our support for Israel and her citizens," said Ira Schwartz, president and CEO.
"Our chair, Beryl Simonson, and a small group of community leaders have returned from Israel, where they learned firsthand from Israeli political and military leaders about the issues, as well as current and ongoing needs. The delegation's report will put us in a much better position to articulate these needs and provide necessary financial support."
In Federation's Partnership 2000 communities of Netivot/Sedot Negev — just a few kilometers from Gaza — Federation's ongoing assistance has provided funds for projects such as providing two all-terrain vehicles to deliver emergency supplies. Aid will continue to the area as needs are communicated.
Learn about the Israel Emergency Fund by calling 215-832-0577, or visit: www.jewishphilly.org. Checks payable to "Jewish Federation" can be mailed to P.O. Box 57200; Philadelphia, PA 19111-7200. Write "Israel Emergency Fund" in the memo field.