{4F805597-AC32-42F4-9EE2-BAD88CE3B8B2} Jewish Agency Programs in Conflict Zone
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Summary of Activities
12/27/08 – 1/19/09

January 19, 2009 / 23 Tevet 5769

  • Activities During the War

    Thanks to the generous support of UJC/Federations of North America, the Jewish Agency responded to the needs of southern residents during the war in Gaza with a range of interventions:

    • Daily Respites - More than 28,000 children and youth from the south participated in daily respites in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramat Hasharon, Rishon Lezion, Rehovot, Holon, Even Yehuda and Kiryat Shmona, where they visited parks, the safari, the monkey park, the planetarium, mini-Israel and plays.

    • Multi-Day Respites - The Jewish Agency sent more than 450 children and youth from the south on 2 -7 day retreats in Eilat, Rosh Ha'ain, Moshav Nordia, Jerusalem, Nitzana and Hakfar Hayarok, away from of the range of missiles. The children visited the Dolphin Reef, Timna Park and Yotvata Nature Reserve and enjoyed bonfires, outdoor activities, cycling and swimming.

    • Absorption Centers – The Jewish Agency organized a post trauma counseling program and trained 40 members of staff from absorption centers in the south. Trained therapists are providing over 3,200 new immigrants and staff in 10 Absorption Centers in the south with drama therapy, bibiliotherapy, yoga and relaxation techniques, to help them overcome their anxieties and fear. The professional staffhave organized orientation sessions to strengthen the immigrants and facilitate their return to studies and everyday activities.

    • Peripheral Repairs of Bomb Shelters – Since the war broke out, the Jewish Agency has repaired 315 bomb shelters in Sderot, Netivot, Ofakim, Ashkelon and Ashdod, rendering the shelters livable. Another 200 bomb shelters are currently being repaired.

    • Equipment for Bomb Shelters - In collaboration with Israeli companies, the Jewish Agency has received donations of basic supplies, books, toys and computers, which are being distributed in 250 shelters in the south. Thanks to support of the UJC, hundreds of bomb shelters in the south are being provided with equipment such mattresses, first aid kits, emergency lighting, heaters etc.

    • Mobilizing Volunteers for the South - The Jewish Agency organized more than 220 volunteers to conduct daily activities for children, adults and the elderly confined to 13 bomb shelters in Ashkelon. Activities included: arts and crafts, story reading, songs and puppet shows. 

    • SOS Emergency Fund - Within 24 hours, the Jewish Agency responds with a financial grant of up to $1,000. Since the start of Operation Cast Lead, the fund has provided more than $90,000, offering an immediate response to 95 victims.

    • At Home Together – During the war, over 470 families offered to host families from the south through the Jewish Agency’s At-Home Together program.

    • The Global Center - The Jewish Agency’s Global Center has fielded more than 2,360 calls since Operation Cast Lead began, providing immediate financial assistance, arranging the hosting families from the south, and receiving more than $16,840 of donations from Israeli citizens.

    • Ayalim Student Villages - students of the two Ayalim villages in Beer Sheva and Yachini decided to stay in the area despite the fact that their university classes were cancelled, to help the people of Yachini, Sderot, Netivot and Beer Sheva. They immediately became the moving force in the local councils of those cities and conducted different activities according to the needs of the population. These include organizing drumming lessons for children in the 70 shelters of Netivot. Ayalim students also arranged a collection of warm clothes and food items, and delivered them to soldiers on the Gaza border.

Volunteers organized games and activities for children
in bomb shelters in Ashkelon

  • First Steps towards Recovery

    Drawing on the impact and success of our wide-reaching efforts to rebuild northern Israel after the war in 2006, and as a result of our ongoing work in the southern war-torn region, the Jewish Agency is currently preparing a comprehensive approach to help galvanize affected residents and communities in the south. Thanks to the generous support of UJC/Federations of North America, and based on our expertise and professional infrastructure, will be play a central role in the rehabilitation of the south. According to a needs assessment conducted by our field professionals together with local authorities, we have identified four primary realms of activity:

    1. Continued Respite Activities for Children and Youth

      Since the beginning of the crisis in the south, the Jewish Agency has been taking children out of the line of fire for one-day respite programs in the north and center of the country. These activities included a concert in Jerusalem by Israeli rising star, Shai Gabsu, a visit to the Ramat Gan Safari, and other fun activities. Already more than 28,000 children have enjoyed these much needed daily respites. Field professionals and parents report that all these children are showing signs of improvement; they are happier, more relaxed, and stronger. The Jewish Agency will expand the impact of these respite programs and give an opportunity to 21,000 more children from the south who have not yet been offered such relief.

    2. Educational Enrichment Activities for Children and Youth

      One of the key elements in moving youngsters from trauma to recovery is their reintegration into the formal and informal education systems. This enrichment program will assist the return of school aged children of the south to a scholastic and social routine. Our Youth Futures activities will be extended to help children overcome their fears, return to school, and resume normal childhood activities. Nearly 80 Youth Futures Trustees from the affected region will expand the scope of their work and reach out to many more children affected by the war. They will devote nearly three hours every week, over the course of three months, to additional programming and learning experiences for whole groups of children, not just their Youth Futures participants. Children will be able to enhance their personal potential and build a positive relationship with strong role models. For 3 months, 10,000 children from the war-torn region will enjoy:
      • Creative educational experiences
      • One-on-one attention
      • After-school activities such as art, drama, sports and computers
      • Post-trauma rehabilitation
      • Homework assistance
      • Remedial assistance to augment classroom learning

      This program will be implemented in Beer Sheva, Kiryat Gat Netivot, Ofakim- Merhavim, Sderot, and Sdot Negev.

    3. Mobilizing Young Communities for Southern Revitalization

      Based on the success and impact of young communities in rehabilitating the north after the 2006 Lebanon War, the Jewish Agency is once again turning to young communities to help rehabilitate the war-torn south. These enthusiastic, motivated young people are able to both empower disadvantaged communities and help the residents rebuild their lives.

      Three such Young Communities already in action, one in Beer Sheva Dalet, one in the Old City of Beer Sheva, and one in Yachini. These three communities have nearly 100 residents who have made an indelible impact on the south and have a proven track record for action and effect.

      Thanks to the generous support of the UJC, and to scholarship funds provided by the Israeli government for residents of these Communities, the Jewish Agency will be able use the expertise and energies of the Beer Sheva and Yachini communities to work with youth from the ravaged region to:
      • Help them expand their personal and scholastic potential
      • Close learning gaps resulting from the war
      • Organize fun sports and culture activities
      • Rebuild the physical infrastructure of their communities including renovation and refurbishing
      • Empower them to make positive change in their home communities
    4. Recreational Programs and Resources for Residents of Absorption Centers

      For thousands of new immigrants, their arrival in Israel was marked with an adjustment to life in a war zone. Not only did they have to acclimate to a new language and a new home, but they also face the horrifying realities of air raid sirens, bomb shelters, and trauma. At the Jewish Agency absorption centers, where these new immigrants receive all the attention they need during peace and crisis situations, we have been implementing special programs for the immigrant children. Through special recreational programming, more than 500 youngsters living in 10 southern absorption centers will be able to gain the confidence and communication skills they need to move past the trauma of the war and successfully transition to life in Israel. Additional resources will also be offered, including:

      • special counseling sessions
      • family workshops (for parents and children)
      • learning-skills training
      • outings and field trips

      All these activities are designed to help the children move past the trauma they have experienced and continue their adjustment to Israeli society. The “Mashabim” Center, an emergency crisis intervention organization, will continue to work with us to implement this initiative.

Students at Ayalim villages organize fun activities in southern communities

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            *Only low resolution photo available.

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