Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Kudos to JNF donors for help during Operation Protective Edge


During Operation Protective Edge JNF partner LOTEM took hundreds of children with disabilities away from southern Israel for trips to quieter and safer places in the north.

NEW YORK-From the north to the south, the people of Israel are praising Jewish National Fund (JNF) donors for the emergency aid delivered to them during the recent crisis.    

When Operation Protective Edge went into effect in early July, JNF immediately went to work internally and with numerous partners in Israel to deliver programs, provisions and services for thousands of men, women and children in facilities, shelters and fire stations, and provided trips and field programs to the north for youth and families, the severely disabled, and other residents of the south.

"There is nothing more ethical than to help a human being in their greatest time of need and this is even more so for a person who cannot help him or herself," explained Amos Ziv, the founder and director of LOTEM-Making Nature Accessible, now celebrating its 21st year.

Within hours of the escalation between Gaza and Israel, JNF was contacted by its partners in Israel and received a list of emergency needs and immediately mobilized its resources that included lay leaders and staff, and set the $5 million goal to provide the requested aid and relief to communities across Israel. To date, over 17,000 JNF donors have raised more than $5 million for the people of Israel.

"Once again JNF-USA is in touch with the needs of our people," said Michal Shiloah Galnoor, executive director of Western Galilee Now. "We began with three daily tours from Beer Sheva, Ashdod and Ashkelon and because the buses were fully booked, JNF-USA encouraged us to organize more tours. When we met the families, learned about their anxiety, and saw the children run and play outside after long days of confinement to the shelters, you could see the parents relax as they spent good quality time with their families. They were ever so grateful and it was very moving."

Kinneret Bargil, head of the education department in the Bedouin village of Segev Shalom, commented, "You made my day! It is so important that these kids know somebody cares about them. You don't understand how it feels to have someone who cares and gives with a full heart." 

Working with its global partners, JNF placed more than 200 fortified bomb shelters in Negev communities that border Gaza. Many residents in the new communities of Halutza, Neve, Givot Bar and other towns reside in temporary homes that do not have bomb shelters. The mobile shelters JNF delivered hold about 10 people comfortably and cost donors $30,000 each. 

Rabbi Eli Adler of Halutza, a town in the Negev Desert directly on the Gaza border that is regularly struck by Hamas rockets, remarked, "A shelter is more than concrete. It's an emotional Iron Dome that creates a sense of security. We can't say thank you enough to our JNF friends who stood beside us so quickly and with the shelters they provided brought some peace to our families and children."

In Sderot, a southern city within a mile of Gaza, also frequently targeted by rocket attacks, JNF's secure Indoor Recreation Center was kept open 24 hours a day to service thousands of civilians and military forces in the area.

"This center has proven to be our lifeline," said Alon Davidi, mayor of Sderot. "I don't know what we would do without it."

JNF donors also purchased five brand new Saar fire trucks for Israeli firefighters who have been working around the clock extinguishing fires caused by rockets assaults.  

"You have no idea what it meant for us to know we were thought of during this grueling time," said Shiko Bar Dov, deputy commissioner of Israel's Fire and Rescue services. "It's inspiring to see the commitment, friendship and solidarity of the community in the US and JNF and the land of Israel. Thank you for your partnership with the fire and rescue services in saving lives." Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI), a JNF partner and the only pluralist, non-denominational, fully accredited international study abroad program in Israel for high school students, welcomed 150 American teens between June and late July to spend their summer studying and exploring the land of Israel. At the Hod Hasharon campus students quickly learned how to calmly make their way to bomb shelters when sirens sounded and the staff showed compassion and sensitivity to the needs of the students.

Linda Henriquez, an AMHSI parent shared her thoughts: "I want you to know that just receiving updates from you helped so much. I am impressed with Alexander Muss High School in Israel after this summer in a new way.... A piece of Ben was left behind in Israel and he is a different young man. He is wiser and older in so many ways. Thank you for taking care of my son."


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