Jewish Federations Mission Touring Israel¹s

South in Expression of Solidarity

Delegation Acting as ³External Ambassadors² to Express Support and Convey

Israel¹s Story to the World

(SDEROT, Southern Israel- July 15, 2014) More than two dozen American Jewish

communal leaders are currently touring communities in Southern Israel in an

emergency solidarity mission of the Jewish Federations across North America

(JFNA).  The mission is an effort to visit locales directly affected by

rocket attack and to demonstrate that the North American Jewish community

stands alongside the people of Israel at this time.

Meanwhile, JFNA have also launched an emergency fund aimed at providing

urgent and immediate assistance to Israeli communities under the barrage of

rockets attacks from Gaza. The ³Stop the Sirens² campaign is a partnership

with the Reform and Conservative movements of Judaism.  The campaign will

respond to immediate needs being addressed in collaboration with Jewish

Federation¹s overseas partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American

Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Israel Trauma Coalition and other

groups and coordinated with the Government of Israel.

During the two-day mission, delegates have traveled to Ashkelon, Sderot and

Beer Sheva, as well as smaller kibbutzim and moshavim that have been

directly impacted by rocket attacks from Gaza. By tonight, they will have

visited a hospital in Ashkelon, a ³protected playground² and other sites in

Sderot, relocation and relief sites for the region¹s children, and bomb

shelters in Sderot and on Kibbutz Nir Am.

The Jewish leaders toured the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, which

provides medical attention for both Israeli and Palestinian victims.  The

visit to the hospital was interrupted twice by the wail of the air-raid

sirens that sent the delegates scurrying for cover.

They also visited the Amigour Apartments in Sderot. Amigour is one of the

largest builders of public housing in Israel and is owned by the Jewish

Agency and United Israel Appeal. The company owns a Sderot apartment

building constructed with bunkers in each apartment.

Also in Sderot ­ a city located less than a mile from Gaza ­ the delegates

learned about what life is like for Israelis living with constant rocket

fire. In a meeting with Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, delegates had a chance to

hear about the practical and emotional challenges facing residents who live

in such close proximity to rocket fire.

The group also visited with the Joint Distribution Committee-supported

Center for Young Adults.  Though the Center works throughout the country to

provide counseling and guidance for young adults throughout the year, they

have opened its doors as a Œsafe space¹ for children and families in Sderot

during the current emergency.

And today, they toured the JDC-supported Center for Independent Living in

Beer Sheva to learn about how the recent crisis challenged the disabled.

They also visited the JAFI Yealim Absorption Center in Beer Sheva and met

with ³Students Under Fire² at Ben Gurion University

³Our goal in this mission is to serve as external ambassadors and to provide

the people of Israel with the reassurance that they are not alone in this

battle and that the Jewish communities of North America and all the Diaspora

stand behind this effort to protect Israel¹s home front,² said Jerry

Silverman, JFNA¹s President and CEO. ³But it also has given us the

appreciation for the real trauma that the people of Israel are experiencing.

This is a message that the world needs to appreciate, so that Israel can do

everything necessary to protect her citizens.²

JFNA opened a $10 million fundraising effort to meet Israel¹s most immediate

needs caused by ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza. Working with the Reform

and Conservative Movements, the campaign helps service-providers deliver the

medical, psychological and other items required to treat Israeli victims.

Due to partner agencies¹ work already on the ground, these funds will be

able to counsel and help more than 40,000 children who live within 25 miles

of Gaza and have spent a lifetime under fire, support senior centers that

provide thousands of elderly living in poverty‹many of them Holocaust

survivors‹with food and comfort, and offer counseling to the most vulnerable

populations in Israel.

Local municipalities are at the forefront of managing community services and

responses to attacks. JFNA has deep partnerships with these cities, and

targeted local assistance helps bridge the gap between government aid and



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