Diaspora Jews Hit With Appeals From 'Emergency Funds' for Israel’s Crisis

Large and small organizations ask for funds for causes including a 'Protective Edge Therapeutic Resort,' solidarity missions from Diaspora leaders planned.

Eliyahu Hershkovitz

As Israelis cope with the incessant rocket fire an ongoing military mobilization as Operation Protective Edge continues, North American Diaspora Jews have found their Email boxes flooded over the past several day with appeals from organizations who are rushing in to meet their need to feel connected and do something to help Israel - not exclusively, but primarily, through their pocketbooks.

Emails from the fundraising arms of a variety of organizations offer members detailed updates on daily events as they unfold in the Middle East conflict - and end with the ways in which their organizations are pitching in - or preparing to lend a hand - and an appeal for funds in order to help them do so.

The largest-scale fundraising effort has been launched by the Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Reform and Conservative movements in a campaign that has been called ‘Stop the Sirens’ - the fund, they say, is aimed at distributing safety equipment and emergency information, providing trauma counseling and respite opportunities.

Addressing possible concern that donations be focused on true emergency needs and not just for general fundraising, donors are being reassured by JFNA that this is “a special fundraising effort with the understanding that these funds will be deployed to meet needs over the next two weeks and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict” distributed for the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

They are not alone. The Orthodox Union has created an Israel Emergency Fund to help its existing organizations offer ‘respite and psychological services and day trips to children in the conflict zone’ - B’nai B’rith International has opened an Israel Emergency Fund.

Other organizations have announced via Email and press releases are and making targeted requests.

American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency services is soliciting contributions for emergency medical supplies for ambulances and first responders, blood bags and supplies, and communications equipment.

A JNF Email appeal headlined “Special Report” informed potential givers the “new desert community” of Halutza where former evacuees from Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005 live.

“No Code Red alert sounded as none exists there and one rocket landed right next to a house that had many children inside. Fortunately no one was hurt. Twenty four families in this new community are living in caravans as they await their permanent homes and their temporary houses are not equipped with bomb shelters. We need to send 24 mobile shelters there immediately to safeguard their lives. Each safe room cost $30,000 to ship and install. As the government is not supplying them, we need to. Help send 24 mobile bomb shelters to Halutza today.”

The “OneFamily” terror relief organization sounds a particularly dramatic note in their appeal: “Cowering in shelters - praying for their lives. Rockets and mortars pound Southern Israel - sirens ring relentlessly warning residents to run! Help us get 1000 men, women and children out of the South: to rest, to sleep, to stabilize to rebuild” in what it calls its “Protective Edge Therapeutic Resort” - with a price tag of $980 to send each family there for three days and additional costs. 

On July 9, when Hamas rockets began to hit central Israel, Marcie Natan, Hadassah National President sent out an appeal to give to what it calls the “Hadassah Readiness Fund.”

“Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) is mobilizing for an influx of casualties from the greater Jerusalem area, though we pray there will be few. As a tertiary care hospital, we are also prepared to receive wounded soldiers and civilians who might be airlifted from more distant areas.

Our below-ground Surgical Center at the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower is not yet fully equipped and furnished, but it stands ready if patients must be moved out of harm’s way. The five below-ground floors are fortified against conventional, chemical and biological weapons.”

Not every organization has been quick to ask for funds. One official at a U.S. organization that supports a number of Israeli charities - who asked that she and her organization not be named said deciding whether to make an appeal at a time like this isn’t always simple. “It's a really difficult line that those of raising money for Israel have to straddle at times like this… we are keeping in touch with our donors, thanking them for their solidarity, and not asking for emergency donations. Not yet. Each day is a new day in the New Normal, and we too, need to think about the best way we can focus our efforts with our grantee partners who are working to assist the most disenfranchised populations in Israel in times of crisis. So at some point, soon, we will do an ask. But it was clear to is that we absolutely wouldn't do it on the backs of the boys nor at the beginning of the "operation" when everyone is walking around like a giant, gaping wound.”

As is traditional in times of crisis, delegations of US Jewish leaders are heading to Israel for ‘solidarity missions’ to show support in person, not simply through making financial contributions.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations delegation is due to arrive on Monday July 14, to meet government and military officials and tour areas susceptible to rocket fire by Hamas, they released a statement that “We trust that our presence will be a source of strength and support as the people go into the second week of constant bombardment by hundreds of missiles targeting a civilian population.”

Several groups of federation leaders, led by JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman are also headed to the south of Israel for briefings from official and American citizens, and “to see the work being done by Federation partner agencies firsthand, as well as consult with Israeli government and religious leaders.” 

JTA contributed to this story