Tidewater Supports Israel: Emergency funds help Israelis in myriad ways

by | Oct 26, 2023 | Featured

Betty Ann Levin
When Israel was brutally attacked on the morning of October 7, 2023, our community not only immediately condemned Hamas and stood in solidarity with Israel, but we also responded.

On Sunday, Oct. 8, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater opened the Tidewater Supports Israel – 2023 Emergency Fund, with 100% of the proceeds going to help Israelis and communities through our overseas partners.

To-date, more than $4,100,000 in funds have been committed to the Emergency Fund and distributions are underway.

Some of the organizations benefiting from Tidewater’s support thus far include:

• The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is assisting more than 200,000 Israelis who have been displaced, as well as supporting the needs of families of more than 360,000 reservists. Israelis are facing an epidemic of trauma, especially among children, along with a need for immediate and long-term mental health support for hundreds of thousands. JDC is building upon its existing infrastructure by connecting individuals and families with mental health counseling, as well as providing the counseling.
JDC has established kindergartens for displaced children and is training caregivers and educators on how to address trauma for children and their families.
JDC has also mobilized hundreds of older adult volunteers to help the families of fallen soldiers, the injured, and young children, in the south and throughout the country.
One mode for trauma support is the Hibuki doll, which JDC has used in Israel, Japan, and Ukraine. Under the direction of JDC professionals, 4,500 Hibuki dolls have been provided to children evacuated from southern communities to help them cope with the traumas they experienced and continue to relive daily. An additional 6,000 dolls are currently being manufactured for Israel.
Much of this, along with other JDC initiatives are funded annually through our annual community campaign.

• ORT’s (Organization for Rehabilitation and Trainings) Kfar Silver Youth Village, located in Hof Ashkelon, just seven miles from Gaza. Community members visited the village during the community mission in March of 2023, due to our ongoing support. The impact from the attacks has been direct and profound. The emergency fund is helping to provide mental health services for the young at risk at Kfar Silver, as well as support new security and safety measures.

• The Jewish Agency for Israel is providing support in numerous ways. So far, Tidewater has supported the JAFI Victims of Terror Fund, which provides financial assistance to victims and their families within 24-48 hours of requests, and follows up with long-term rehabilitative support. To date, 2,780 grants have been provided and more than 1,400 are in process. JAFI established the Families of Victims of Terror hotline following the attacks and has received more than 2,600 calls.

• Neve Michael Children’s Village in Pardes Hana, Tidewater’s long-term partner. Support is being provided to assist with trauma recovery and therapeutic needs. Neve Michael’s children have all experienced some type of abuse – many are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Our support helps provide the tools to overcome trauma and regain a sense of security.

• Emergency services in Israel, through United Hatzalah, the fully volunteer emergency medical service organization providing help throughout Israel, free of charge; and Magan David Adom, supporting EMT’s, first responders, and first-aid providers.

• Hadassah Medical Center, Friends of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), which provides for the welfare of soldiers; and the Israel Trauma Coalition which, through member groups, has expanded their mental health crisis services due to the overwhelming number of requests for help.
UJFT professional and lay leadership are evaluating the needs daily and sending funds consistently to partner organizations as quickly as possible to help the people of Israel.

Am Yisrael Chai and thank you to all in our community for your generosity.

Betty Ann Levin is executive vice president/CEO, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater/Simon Family JCC.