We are all glued to news sources for information about Israel’s ongoing Gaza war. While there is some sense of déjà vu in the daily reports of the conflict — reminding us of a similar war fewer than two years ago — this one is different. This time, Hamas’ rockets have far greater range and have put a larger part of the country under threat. That threat requires a more comprehensive response.
Israel has every right to defend herself and her citizens and to do what is necessary to remove the ongoing threat to her safety and security. But the reality is that such activity comes at a tremendous price, on every conceivable level.
So what can we do to help and support Israel? While the violence and uncertainty have led to a drop in general tourism to Israel, targeted programs such as Birthright are still going full force. And several Jewish organizations have launched “solidarity missions” to Israel to demonstrate Diaspora concern for Israel’s well-being. Members of our local community have gone on those solidarity missions, and their reports from Israel are inspiring.
To that same end, major Jewish organizations and local Jewish federations have commenced campaigns to raise funds to support the mounting social needs generated by the ongoing conflict.
Locally, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has set up an Israel Emergency Fund for trauma relief to care for those at-risk, including the elderly and vulnerable populations, and for the immediate mobilization of those vulnerable populations to safer environments.
Our Federation’s effort is part of Jewish Federations of North America’s Stop the Sirens Campaign, which is leading a major North American effort to raise and to distribute funds to provide emergency aid. That campaign is also supported by the Union of Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism. The Orthodox Union has set up a separate emergency campaign, as has B’nai B’rith International.
Each of these efforts is worthwhile. They present members of our community a direct means to help Israelis in need, to express support for the Protective Edge effort and to strengthen connections with the Jewish state. We endorse and encourage participation in these and other similar efforts designed to bring comfort and support to our Israeli family.