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Special fundraising campaigns initiated: Israel needs you now

Late last week the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, through the Jewish Federations of North American, launched Operation Relief and Respite in response to the current tensions in Israel.

“Our family in Israel is in need, and we are going to step up and support them,” says Jerry Silverman, JFNA CEO.

In joining with this campaign, the local Jewish Federation announced it stands “shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel at this critical time. Hundreds of powerful rockets have been fired on Israeli cities from Gaza. Three-quarters of Israelis lie within their range. Help support our family in Israel who has been struggling with the physical and emotional trauma of living under fire on a daily basis. Join the national Jewish response to provide urgent services.”

“While we all pray for an end to the violence, we must respond immediately to the needs of the Israeli people during this emergency,” the statement concluded.

JFNA is partnering with the Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for a campaign called Stop the Sirens aimed at distributing safety equipment and emergency information, providing trauma counseling and respite opportunities. (Operation Relief and Respite is a part of the Stop the Sirens national campaign.) The funds will be sent over the next two weeks and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict, according to the Jewish Federations. The money will be distributed in conjunction with the federation’s overseas partners, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

One hundred percent of all contributions will go directly to Israel.

Derek Gale, the Federation’s financial resource and development director, just returned from Israel. He experienced Israel in this time of crisis, and saw firsthand how Israel needs our help. 

“With our collective resources, our partners on the ground there (including JAFI and JDC) can assist the elderly, can move children out of harm’s way for respite in camps in other areas of the country, can offer trauma counseling, and can offer emergency financial assistance for those whose homes may have been hit and damaged by rockets,” Gale said.

“Just before I left Israel, a friendly Israeli reminded me that the best thing I could do upon arriving home would be to share with you just how much and how sincerely these people appreciate everything we do — from being there in solidarity with them at this trying time, to sending our support through contributions that will take care of those who are most vulnerable and most in need.”

Contributions can be made online by visiting www.jewishkansascity; sending a check, with Israel Relief in the memo line to Jewish Federation at 5801 W. 115th St., Suite 201, attn. Derek Gale, Israeli relief. Donors may also call Gale at 913-327-8123 or Bev Jacobson at 913-327-8108.

In addition to money the Jewish Federation’s website suggests American Jews can support Israel in the following ways:

•  Post your comments of support for Israel on Facebook and Twitter

• Talk about the emergency with your family, friends, neighbors and business associates

•  Write a letter to the editor of your newspaper supporting Israel and blog on websites

• Contact your U.S. Representatives and Senators to urge their support for Israel

According to JTA, other Jewish organizations are also organizing fundraising efforts or sending immediate financial help to Israel. The Orthodox Union has issued a call for its Israel Emergency Fund to help offer respite and psychological services to children in the conflict zone. B’nai B’rith International also opened an Israel Emergency Fund.

The American Jewish Committee sent $50,000 to a hospital in Ashkelon, Barzilai Medical Center, for the purchase of an anesthesia machine for its emergency room.

Several American fundraising arms of Israeli organizations have issued calls for help, including Na’amat, an Israeli day care organization, and American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency services, which asked for money for emergency medical supplies for ambulances and first responders, blood bags and supplies, and communications equipment.

Meanwhile, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews said Sunday that it was opening a new emergency support center for the elderly and allocating more funds for bomb shelters for southern Israelis, who have been the major targets of Gaza bombing. The center will provide a base for volunteers to contact and accept calls from the elderly in need of assistance.

Fellowship volunteers will deliver food, medication and emotional support to the elderly in endangered areas, the organization said in a statement.

In the past week, the fellowship said it raised over $2 million from Christian supporters of Israel to help the victims of Gaza rockets.

JTA contributed to this report.