We read about kites, balloons, rockets, and mortars emanating from Gaza on an almost daily basis. The human, ecological, and agricultural impacts create significant challenges to those who bravely reside in the border regions in southern Israel – areas that are indisputably a part of the country. The burnt-out fields and forests are a devastating sight to the people who brought bounty to the desert. Just this year, there have been 550 fires, 7,500 acres of farmland destroyed, and 269 rockets and mortars launched into the border communities. Every day, those figures grow. Every day, the psychological trauma increases. We hear from the mothers and fathers. Families are fatigued. They are scared. They just want to live in their country in peace.
At Federation, we are working with our partners in Sha’ar Hanegev to assess the needs to support them through these severe times. As responsible stewards of your donations, we and our partners want to ensure that your generosity has the impact you expect. As a result, we are NOT initiating an emergency campaign. Between funds remaining from prior campaigns and the assistance of the Israeli government and other organizations, our partners in Sha’ar Hanegev feel that their current needs are funded.
Rather than appeal to you for more financial support as these acts of terror continue, it is important that you are fully aware of the lives you are impacting. It is essential that you know your dollars matter. They matter to the children and adults who endeavor to retain normalcy when normal toys are converted into daily weapons. They matter when 173 red alert sirens shrill day and night to notify residents that they have 15 seconds to seek cover due to incoming missiles and mortars – last Shabbat alone! Personally, I cannot imagine the impact on those who live there, yet I am fortunate to be able to do what I can to help to alleviate the trauma.
The residual funds from past emergency campaigns combined with resources from our partners are providing essential support for Sha’ar Hanegev and the entire region affected by the recent attacks. Examples of how our money is helping people in real and significant ways include the following:
• 100 adults and children directly treated for psychological trauma
• Workshops to foster coping skills: 10 for adults; 10 for children
• 10 workshops to create and train social and educational teams
• 3 workshops to train volunteers to administer “first-emotional-aid”
• 6 workshops for additional training of area professionals, e.g., kindergarten teachers, emergency team leaders, therapists, firefighters
• 618 people treated by the Israel Trauma Coalition (422 children/youth)
In addition to these critical services, we are working with Sha’ar Hanegev leaders on needs around providing programs for respite for the children such as art and music therapy. Additional training and enhancing adult presence at children activities are other areas under evaluation.
The San Diego Jewish (and non-Jewish supporters) community has always been there in Israel’s greatest times of need. We provide funding to support essential services in an effort to ameliorate their suffering to some degree. Rest assured that those programs listed above, thanks to you, help address the distress they experience on a daily basis. Today, on behalf of the thousands we support in Sha’ar Hanegev, we thank you for your generosity. Unfortunately, the needs will continue, and I know that Federation and our entire community will be there when that time arrives. Your dollars matter.