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From Alan Gill, Chief Executive Officer
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

July 16, 2014

Alan Gill Headshot

Alan Gill

It’s hard for any of us to imagine what it is like to live under constant threat of missile attack, fear permeating your being, wondering what will happen next.

Now imagine if you were a frail or bedridden 80-year-old, a person with a physical disability or a petrified child tackling challenges every day, including the loss of a parent or poverty. Now add the sirens. Add the missiles. Think of the loneliness. And keep in mind that 60-second window to find safety and solace.

Now you understand the situation for tens of thousands of Israelis in the south—and throughout the country—who face this crisis, the unimaginable, with growing needs and circumstances that require a response imbued with humanity and carried out with expert care.

Thanks to the passionate support and leadership of JFNA and the Jewish Federation system, there is a broad and deep JDC network in Israel of hundreds of emergency teams, social workers, teen volunteers and trained professionals who are reaching 10,000 elderly and people with disabilities to ensure their basic needs, including human contact; bringing smiles to the faces of nearly 20,000 children through bomb shelter recreational activities; offering a day of critically needed respite to busloads of vulnerable Israelis from heavily bombarded areas; creating a WhatsApp peer-to-peer message group among worried mothers that is ensuring they have neighbors to turn to when sirens blare; and working on a number of innovative and widely deployed online platforms that reach these Israelis in their homes and on their phones at their greatest time of need.

Today in Israel, as whenever there is a crisis in the Jewish world, we are putting into action that we are all responsible for one another. In the last week, tens of thousands of Israeli seniors, children and youth, and people with disabilities turned to the JDC facilities and staff who support them during the best of times, and were given the intimate assurance that someone was there for them at the worst of times. That someone was there because of the global Jewish community—because of you.