“G-d will give strength to the people-G-d will bless all people with peace” Operation Protective Edge has gone on for two weeks now with a heavy toll of deaths, and injuries in Israel’s effort to defend the cities, towns and rural settlements in the south. The IMPJ is continuing its mobilization to bring relief to the people living under fire. In the last few days and planned till the end of this week we will continue to focus on the following specific spheres of intervention:
Volunteering in Shelters and Emergency Facilities throughout the south- Organized by our humanitarian relief arm, up to now over 200 volunteers have lead activities in shelters, community centers, and other locations in cities and regional councils throughout the south. These volunteers lead activities and hand out “Activity” packages that include games, books, and interactive fun experiences. Where needed we are also handing out “Food and Hygiene Packages” in shelters. Our volunteers have worked directly with over 1500 people. We will be continuing to facilitate volunteers from IMPJ congregations, mechina alumni (those that haven’t been drafted), and others from our institutions. We have already handed out close to 2000 activity packages.
Recreation and Relaxation Days for Children and Families at our centers in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv- Starting this past Thursday and scheduled to continue every day until the crises ends, we are bringing children and families from areas of missile bombardment to our centers for fun, cultural activities, and relaxation. Four of these days have already taken place at the Leo Baeck Campus in Haifa with around 50 children each day including a day with Bedouin children from the Negev this past Sunday. Starting later this week groups will be hosted in Beit Shmuel in Jerusalem and in Mishkanot Ruth of Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv.
Hosting of Families with special needs in our Movement Locations- Families with special needs children and adults from areas impacted by the crises have a more urgent need to be taken away from the constant sirens, moving to shelters, and pressure. Therefore our two Reform Kibbutzim along with Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv and Beit Shmuel in Jerusalem will be hosting special needs families from weak economic backgrounds. Up to now we have arranged for 100 such families to be hosted and this number will be increased over the next few days.
Cultural and Spiritual Care in Frameworks for Emotionally Challenged- The IMPJ was asked by the Ministry of Health and by many municipal welfare departments to bring educators, cultural coordinators and song leaders to closed frameworks for Emotionally Challenged people to help them deal with the crises. We created three teams of Rabbis, song leaders, and facilitators for this purpose and have begun daily visits to facilities in Kiryat Gat, Beer Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, and Ashkelon where we lead cultural events, singing, and discussions to help relieve stress and build resilience.
It is important to note that in addition to all of the activities listed above that we are involved in, our congregations and communities also have to cope with the situation. This is especially true of our communities in Gedera, the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, and in Beer Sheva. All of these communities are dealing themselves with the stressful and dangerous situation every moment of the day and night. A good example of this is the activity of our student Rabbi in Sha’ar HaNegev Yael Karrie who every day leads activities with elderly, participates in the regional emergency center, visits hospitals, participates in the programs noted above with emotionally challenged, has reached out to Bedouins in Rahat, lead Shabbat services and is a model for initiative and tireless effort during the crises.
We want to make special mention of the support from our communities throughout the world and the fact that our North American partners from the URJ and all the other arms of our movement in North America are partners in the JFNA “Stop the Sirens” campaign which is providing the IMPJ with funds to help us carry out all the activities described above. We are grateful to JFNA for supporting the IMPJ emergency relief efforts. We continue to pray for peace.