January 23, 2007 / 4 Shevat 5767
The citizens of Sderot and its environs are living in terror. They are caught in a war of attrition that has no end in sight. Day after day the emergency siren sounds, signaling another Kassam rocket attack. Citizens run for cover, wondering who will be the next victim of the incessant terror. Schoolchildren are frightened, parents are panicked and many small businesses are in danger of bankruptcy.
The Jewish Agency has decided to award emergency assistance to small and micro businesses in Sderot and in the Gaza perimeter communities thanks to a special contribution made by the United Jewish Communities and Federations of North America through their Israel Emergency Campaign (IEC).
The goal of the emergency grant is to assist hundreds of small businesspeople who have been under fire for a number of years and have sustained economic damage of various proportions due to the continued security incidents. According to data available to the Jewish Agency, in the Sderot region and in the Gaza perimeter there are nearly a thousand small businesses. Due to the Kassam attacks, hundreds of them are in severe economic difficulty and many of them face closure.
The grant to each business will be up to $1,000 and is intended to help partially defray the damages caused by the security situation in the region, and to allow the businesspeople to continue their activities. The emergency grant program was implemented in the North after the second Lebanon war with great success.
This measure is part of a special effort which the Jewish Agency is currently leading, via special assistance from Jewish communities the world over, to reinforce Sderot and Gaza perimeter communities via a series of educational and communal programs.
The Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Zeev Bielski, said that “we are dealing with the continued assistance of Jewish communities worldwide to rehabilitate Sderot and the Gaza perimeter communities as well as the northern communities”.
Priority will be extended to business owners who are the sole breadwinners, new immigrants, terror victims, and special cases. A media campaign in the print and electronic media has been launched to create awareness among potential applicants, and application forms are available through the Jewish Agency's website.
Stefani Egozy, a jewelry designer in Nahariya whose business was in ruins after the war this summer, was a recipient of the Jewish Agency emergency grant. “I was feeling very low when I heard about the Jewish Agency grants,” she recalls. “And suddenly, within a week of applying, I had a check for nearly $1,000 in my hands. That and the birth of my baby boy gave me new energy to start working again.”