Contact: Donald Cohen-Cutler 212.650.4213 Emily Grotta (Seattle) 914.772.7657
Israel Emergency Fund Reactivated to Address the Needs of the City of Sderot Funds Will Support Programs with Emphasis on Special Needs Residents
June 11, 2007, Seattle, WA The Union for Reform Judaism today re-opened its Israel Relief Emergency Fund to raise funds to help the people of Sderot, who have been under intense Palestinian rocket attacks in recent weeks.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union, told the Unions Board of Trustees that Sderot has become the primary target of Israels enemies, who want to force the evacuation of Sderot as part of their broader plans to bring about the destruction of Israel.
The enemies of Israel are acquiring longer-range rockets for attacks on more distant Israeli cities, Yoffie said. Their intentions are clear: Sderot first, then Ashkelon, and then, perhaps, maybe even Tel Aviv. It is for this reason that Israels historic policy of never evacuating citizens in the face of armed aggression has been reaffirmed by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.
The funds raised in the 2007 Israel Emergency Fund will be used to help the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism continue its efforts to help the people of Sderot, who have suffered terribly during the recent attacks. Some have died in the rocket attacks, the children of the city are traumatized, and businesses have been forced to close repeatedly, Yoffie said. Surely the citizens of the town are entitled to the best defenses, social services, and support that the Jewish people can provide.
Since the attacks on Sderot accelerated, the IMPJ has been working directly with the citizens of Sderot, particularly the elderly, children and disabled, and helping to fund the Living Under Fire: Children and Families in Sderot program of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma. This internationally renowned trauma center has helped countless Israeli families recover from the long-term psychological affects of war. (Full details of the programs are available online at www.urj.org/israel ).
Last summer, during and after the war in Lebanon, the Reform community in Israel rushed to help the people of the North, and the Reform community of North America came to their aid to make their efforts possible, Yoffie recalled. Once again, Israeli Reform Jews are responding to a crisis, and I am confident that, once again, their North American brothers and sisters will provide the funding necessary for their efforts to succeed.
In the wake of last summers Lebanon War, the Unions Israel Emergency Fund allocated more than $1.4 million raised by North American congregations and their members to organizations, shelters, Reform congregations and service groups all across northern Israel. The current campaign is seeking an initial $100,000 for the projects of the IMPJ and other organizations, although more may be needed if the attacks continue.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.