The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), has launched Stop the Sirens. The campaign, initiated with a $10 million goal, is now looking for $30 million in commitments to deal with immediate and critical needs. eJP has been informed that all federations are making an effort to participate.
As of July 24th, $8,500,000 has been allocated to specific projects proposed by JFNA’s major partners (The Jewish Agency, JDC, World ORT and the Israel Trauma Coalition) and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and Masorti movement in Israel.
Shortly before Shabbat, eJP spoke at length with Heschel Raskas, the chair of JFNA’s Allocations Committee, to both understand the process and learn what needs the campaign is looking at.
[Note: While questions have been raised here at eJP and elsewhere on topics including the knee-jerk response of solidarity missions, exploiting wars and other tragedies as FRD tools, JFNA’s overall messaging at this critical time, and more, the purpose of this conversation was, as stated above, to understand the process and the allocations already approved. As to other areas and the likelihood that even $30 million is a fraction of what will be needed by JFNA’s major partners – conversations for another day.]
In order to target the most critical and timely needs, the allocations committee is not approving block grants but rather looking at specific projects. Requests are first vetted by JFNA’s staff in Israel with assistance from the dozen or so Israel-based representatives of the various federations. Recommendations are forwarded to the committee which is composed of both lay and professional individuals. All committee members have deep Israel experience and many have been on the ground at some point during the past few weeks. Both the URJ and the USCJ are represented on the committee.
The 4 Broad Categories of Needs
- Immediate relief, particularly for the 45,000 children who are in the “line of fire.” 20,000 children were assisted last week with a day away from the front lines – at summer camps, youth villages or in enrichment classes.
- Additional direct services to Israel’s most vulnerable citizens. As many of these individuals are unable to leave their residences, efforts include the hiring of additional case workers, delivering food and medicines to their homes, installing air conditioners, even changing light bulbs.
- Expanded trauma support is being provided to more than 15,000 civilians and first responders. Hotlines are being expanded in long-established areas and also being initiated in areas that previously had less need (i.e. not targeted with rocket attacks).
- Flexible assistance for communities hit hardest. Here, 13 local municipalities are providing more micro-managed services, bridging the needs between the government and specific local needs.
eJP plans to post updates to the work of the allocations committee as information is made available.
Infographic provided by JFNA