Israel under fire

Israel under fire

The sirens wail.

Israelis run for cover.

And in America, Jews ask: How can we help?

To a large extent, they already have.

Of the more 850 missiles that Gaza fired into Israel in the past week, more than 300 were knocked down by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which was funded in large part with hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid. This has been a key legislative accomplishment of pro-Israel activists and legislators in recent years.

But for those seeking a more direct way to help Israelis in a time of crisis, the Jewish Federations of North America announced that it has created the Israel Terror Relief Fund. The umbrella organization of Jewish federations has authorized up to $5 million to help Israelis, particularly in the south, who are affected by the missile barrages from Gaza.

Donations can be made through the website of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey: Checks marked Israel Terror Relief Fund can be mailed to the federation, at 50 Eisenhower Drive, Paramus, N.J., 07652.

You also can text “Israel” to 51818.

The Union for Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are asking their synagogue members to support the fund.

JFNA is disbursing the money it raises to four groups in Israel: The Jewish Agency for Israel; the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; World ORT; and the Israel Trauma Coalition.

The Israel Trauma Coalition was founded by the UJA-Federation of New York in 2001, in response to the violence of the second intifada and increasing rocket attacks in Israel’s north and south. It coordinates the efforts of more than 50 local agencies to help provide post-traumatic treatment and resilience counseling.

The director of the Trauma Coalition was in New York this weekend, addressing a federation discussion on the long-term impact of Hurricane Sandy (See page 33.)

World ORT maintains a network of high schools in Israel, and the relief fund will help them provide distance learning alternatives while schools in the south are closed in response to missile threats. It also will take students to ORT schools in the north for respite.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is distributing food and emergency kits to the elderly and disabled in the south. It has sent caseworkers to provide emotional and physical support to the most severely disabled or frail elderly in their homes. It is also helping children in their shelters.

For its part, the Jewish Agency is providing a range of care, including respite programs for schoolchildren and psychological treatment for children and parents. The Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror provides medical equipment, treatment, and other help that is not provided by the state; emergency cash grants; basic furnishings, repair, and home equipment, and other services to help restore and rebuild lives.