JNF Responds to Conflict in Israel

November 20, 2012 – New York, NY – More than $1 million has been donated to Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) emergency relief effort, launched in response to the escalating conflict in Israel.

With more than three million Israelis under siege, JNF sprang into action and has already made a tremendous difference, helping thousands of children and families get out of harm’s way and giving them a chance to spend time away from bomb shelters and air raid sirens.

In addition, JNF’s advocacy campaign enables Diaspora Jews to make their voices heard here in the U.S. and its Commit 2013 initiative encourages people to commit to travel to Israel during a time when Israel needs us most.

JNF’s Sderot Indoor Recreation Center, a 21,000-square-foot secure playground built four years ago in response to the constant barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza, is serving as a safe haven in one of the most heavily targeted areas of Israel, welcoming hundreds of children and parents each day.

Four years ago we invested $5 million into what some thought was a limited-use indoor playground,” said JNF President Stanley Chesley. “One hundred eighty thousand people have passed through the doors of the Sderot Indoor Recreation Center. No one can question the necessity or the impact.”

To bring entertainment and distraction to families across the country, JNF has welcomed thousands a day at amusement parks in and around Jerusalem, free of charge, where children can enjoy the outdoors for a few hours before returning to bomb shelters. Transportation and food are being provided, also free of charge. JNF also hosted a movie for 300 children in its Jerusalem office building.

Together with the Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS), JNF has opened more than 50 historical sites for residents of the Negev, including the Ayalon Institute and Atlit, and arranged special tours and activities at the Neot Kedumim biblical garden, Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, and Timna Park near Eilat.

JNF partners have been instrumental in these emergency relief efforts. The Green Horizons youth group, Shorashim and Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI) are holding a special camp for children of the Negev. The communities of the Central Arava and Gush Etzion are hosting families from the south and offering tours. LOTEM, an organization that makes nature accessible to people with disabilities, has arranged activities in nature for seven groups of children and adults with special needs from the south, with JNF’s support.

One hundred and eleven years ago, our organization began as the caretakers of the land of Israel,” said JNF Chairman Ronald Lauder. “Today we continue that role, as well as serving as the voice of American Jews in Israel. Our actions during this time of crisis demonstrate our dedication to and unwavering support for Israel and its citizens.”

To donate to JNF’s relief efforts, to send letters of support to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and your congressperson, or to commit to visiting Israel over the next year, visit jnf.org/emergencyrelief. To learn more, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Below are testimonials from Israeli residents:

My daughters enjoyed the Kiftzuba immensely and were able to forget the blare of the sirens and the anxiety that they induce, at least temporarily. Although my daughters are typically very confident and independent, they have not wanted to stray far from home over the past few days. At Kiftzuba, they returned to their usual, happy selves. We met children from Sderot and Ashdod as well as a group of young adults with special needs. Being together, beyond the “red zone,” was a comfort to all. Thank you again for your support of the children of the South!”

– Shira Reifman, Yad Binyamin

On Sunday I took my children to Kiftzuba where they had a blast and especially didn’t have to think about running into the Mamad (shelter). The following day I went to work and my husband took them to Anava Park in Modi’in where again they had a great day with all the amazing activity you planned. For you it might be a small thing, but for us it means a lot.”

– Shoshi Nahshon, Even Shmuel

Thanks to your generosity, my kids are almost oblivious to what is going on. During the day they run and jump and laugh and at night they are so tired they fall asleep (in the bomb shelter) in seconds. They barely have a second to think about the sirens or the rockets. Thank you for all your support. It helps knowing we are not alone and that Jews around the world are sending us a big hug from afar.
– Dvora Galitzer, Yad Binyamin

On behalf of myself and all the families of the regional council Nahal Soreq, I would like to thank you very much for allowing the residents to take a day off from the unpleasant life we are facing these days. Thank you for helping us arrange a great trip to Kiftzuba, where both children and parents could take a break from the tension and stress and have fun together. With your support 35 buses full of families left the area and had a great day.”

– Eli Eskozido, Head of the Regional Council of Nahal Soreq
JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.  For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit www.jnf.org.

About Roberta Witkow

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