I am writing to you during unprecedented times in Israel and want to start with thanking the many alumni, parents, partners and friends who have been reaching out to us to check up and show their support. The outpouring has been heartwarming and very helpful to us.
The last few days in Israel have been unlike anything I remember. I am sure you are seeing the news and are exposed to the magnitude of the events. It is with this in mind that I am writing to share some important updates with our Yahel community:
With a heavy heart, the Yahel board and staff have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the Yahel Social Change Fellowship until things calm down here. In our 14 years of running programs with hundreds of volunteers, we have never taken such a step– neither during a global pandemic nor other operations in Gaza. But this time it feels different and we feel this is the best decision for the safety of our fellows and staff. Our goal is to resume the Fellowship when we feel the situation on the ground in Israel allows us to do so. Some of our fellows have already started to leave the country and in the next few days we will help the rest with the necessary arrangements.
As we think about the role of Yahel in these unfolding events, we have realized that we have two networks with which we want to connect. The first network is our Yahel community all over the world - hundreds of alumni, alumni families and friends who are constantly asking us how they can help. The second network includes over 100 partners around the country - grassroots organizations, projects and community groups - many of whom are in need of support. With this in mind, we have decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign help address local needs in Israel through our network of partners and staff. While we acknowledge the vital work carried out by larger organizations, we understand the value of urgent, direct action.Yahel has a unique role during this moment in time to respond quickly and directly to needs on the ground and to continue to assist our partner organizations, because of the close relationships and partnerships that we have formed over the years.
Our intentions are to answer local needs swiftly whether this means purchasing items for soldiers, helping families who have been evacuated from the South or supporting local partners with immediate and pressing needs. Additionally - we will be assessing local needs and seeing in what ways our alumni and others abroad will be able to help through remote volunteering. We will update about this in the near future.
We are praying for peaceful times and an end to this unfathomable violence.