Almost 4 weeks have passed since the horrible events of October 7th and the start of the war that is affecting so many people. I have been thinking a lot about what it means to respond to a situation like this, how to identify needs thoughtfully and how to address them, particularly those needs that are not being addressed by other entities. It is not an easy thing to do, particularly when wanting to preserve the strengths of local communities. Our wonderful Yahel staff, despite personal losses and challenges, are working hard to continue doing what we do best - supporting grassroots initiatives around the country. This week we have focused on doing so through our Emergency Relief Campaign, growing local volunteer efforts and the work of our Yahel alumni around the world.
We are proud to update that together, we have raised over 275,000 NIS. This speaks volumes to the collective strength of our community. Your unwavering support has allowed us to respond swiftly to the urgent needs on the ground. But the work is far from done and as the war continues, as people continue being internally displaced, and as many have lost their income - the needs are immense.
This week, our efforts have focused on delivering immediate aid as well as planning for sustained assistance in the coming days.
1) Families in Ramat Eliyahu: We've provided tablets for families affected by the recent rocket attack that directly hit their building in Ramat Eliyahu, a neighborhood in Rishon LeZion where we have been working for the last 10 years. This small gesture has been a lifeline for the families’ children attending school on zoom. We are working closely with the welfare department in the city to understand additional needs that may emerge.
2) Jerusalem Families: Recognizing the urgent need, we've distributed essential food items to vulnerable families in East Jerusalem, many of whom have lost income due to the situation.
3) Ofakim Family Assistance: In conjunction with one of our friends in Ofakim, we relocated a traumatized family of 16 from this southern town. Despite not receiving formal evacuation notices, we have assisted them with accommodation, food, and transportation for a few days outside of Ofakim to rest and recuperate.
4) Volunteers in Haifa: We have been supporting recent immigrant volunteers in Haifa who have been working at the Women’s Shelter, providing English lessons, and collecting donations. We are proud to be supporting and working alongside such dedicated individuals.
5) Carmel’s story: Our amazing alumni have created a video sharing the story of Carmel, the cousin of our Rishon LeZion city coordinator, Ido, who was taken as a hostage into Gaza on October 7th. Our alumni have collaborated and utilized their networks to have the video translated into multiple languages including, Russian, French, Spanish, Dutch, with more to come soon. You can view them all on our YouTube channelor go to our Facebook post and like, comment or share this important story. We are all praying for the safe return of Carmel and the additional 239 captives.
In the coming weeks, funds will be directed towards the following immediate needs:
Ofakim: Ofakim was brutally attacked on Oct. 7th and the challenges in this southern town persist. At the same time, local leadership is working hard to support the population in need and in the coming weeks we will help them with funds for food, equipment for activities with children and families, temporary evacuation for traumatized families and local resilience building activities.
Segev Shalom and surrounding unrecognized Bedouin villages: Through our partnership with Amal Abu Alkum and Bedouin Women for Themselves, we are working to assist families in need. Our focus remains on extending help to families whose main income is from the work of mothers in cleaning and agriculture. Because of the situation they are out of work and in dire need of food. There are still 2,340 families in need and Amal is supplying each family with basic food and dry goods for their household.
Sderot: The people of Sderot have been evacuated to hotels but since they do not have income currently, many need help with basic supplies such as diapers and baby formula.
Our emergency relief campaign continues to be a lifeline for communities grappling with the aftermath of the recent events. We hope that you will be able to continue supporting this work and make a meaningful and lasting difference in this critical time.
Praying for peaceful times and with heartfelt appreciation,