Reform Movement Gives Immediate Emergency Relief to Israel Funds Raised by Union for Reform Judaism through its 2006 Israel Emergency Relief Fund
NEW YORK, July 28, 2006-The Union for Reform Judaism has made the first allocations from its 2006 Israel Emergency Fund to institutions in Israel providing essential emergency aid to those displaced from the North. This preliminary allocation has been distributed throughout the state of Israel to organization in great financial need. Additional allocations from the Fund, a joint fund-raising effort of the Reform Movement, are expected shortly.
Just as the Reform communities in Houston, Baton Rouge, Jackson and elsewhere opened their hearts and homes to those fleeing Katrina a year ago, the Reform community in Israel is helping those seeking safety from wars reach, said Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, director of program for the Union. And, once again, the Reform community of North America is opening its wallets to ensure that the needs are met by donating to the 2006 Israel Emergency Relief Fund.
Kleinman noted that the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism, two Reform kibbutzim in the Negev, and the Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa have played particularly important roles during this time.
Kibbutz Yahel and Kibbutz Lotan are hosting approximately 350 Israelis from the North, providing them with food and other necessities. The Kfar Silver Camp, which serves as the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism summer camp, is hosting 50 families from the North in addition to the more than 200 people already in residence at the facility.
Last week the City of Haifa asked Leo Baeck Education Center to open their underground garage as a play area for children who are unable to play outside during this difficult time. Within a day the lower level of the garage had been outfitted with gymnastic and other indoor gym activity equipment and it was filled with the sounds of children who enjoyed the ability to run and play after living in the cramped quarters of bomb shelters for several days.
The IMPJ has been preparing packages of toys and games for kids in the North and also running busses to help move people from the North to safer communities. And North American Reform teens, traveling in Israel this summer with the North American Federation of Teens, have created care packages for soldiers on the front lines.
In addition to providing relief to these institutions, the Union continues to work with Magen David Adom and to the United Jewish Community/Jewish Agency for their efforts to relocate children from the areas that are under siege, Kleinman said.
The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of the Reform Movement in North America, and represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 congregations across the United States and Canada. Union programs and services include youth camps, adult education opportunities, music and book publishing, Outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC.