Jerusalem gatherings

Jewish Agency recognizes Fund for Victims of Terror as it deals with unprecedented number of families

Organization's board of governors meets in Jerusalem, hearing about its efforts and launching new initiatives for the coming year, including a new community partnership program

The Jewish Agency for Israel’s board of governors presented the organization’s Fund for Victims of Terror with an award of appreciation on Sunday as its staff is expected to help more people in six months because of the Oct. 7 attacks than in the previous 21 years that the fund has been in existence combined.

As of this summer, the fund had provided grants and assistance to some 9,000 families affected by terror attacks. So far, the fund, which was started in 2002 during the Second Intifada, has helped 8,000 families and expects to help roughly 2,000 more, according to its CEO, Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin. The fund gives an initial emergency grant of NIS 4,000 ($1,098), with the option of providing grants of up to NIS 25,000 ($6,862) in payments for up to three years.

“Every time that I meet a victim of terror, I tell them that the entire Jewish community is standing with me in solidarity with that first emergency grant and in that complicated marathon of recovery,” Nahmias-Verbin said as her organization’s staff received the certificate on the first day of the board of governors’ three-day conference in Jerusalem this week.

“From the day it was created 21 years before, the fund cared for 9,000 families. Since the disaster of Oct. 7 alone, the fund is expected to care for 10,000 victims, alongside the acts of terror that unfortunately continue to occur. Despite the enormous size, every victim of terror receives the same personal treatment from the women who run the fund,” she said.

This week’s board of governor’s meeting will focus on the organization’s efforts in the past year, particularly in response to the Oct. 7 attacks, and plan its activities for the coming year. The roughly 200 members of the board of governors attending the meeting mark the largest such gathering in Israel since the start of the war.

Also on Sunday, the board of governors unanimously passed a resolution in support of the hostages being held in Gaza.

The measure demands that the international community work to ensure the release of the captives and calls on the Israeli government to “continue its efforts to bring about the release of the hostages and strengthen the hands of all those involved.” It also calls on Jewish communities to continue to raise awareness about the issue and expresses solidarity for the families of the hostages.

The resolution was passed just after Rachel and Jon Goldberg-Polin, whose son, Hersh, was taken captive on Oct. 7, addressed the board. Jon was the founding director of SparkIL, an initiative of the Jewish Agency, which provides microloans to Israeli businesses.

“You could hear a pin drop as the parents of Hersh Goldberg-Polin spoke,” Dan Elabum, the president and CEO of Jewish Agency – North America, wrote on X. “I will never forget their brave story.”

During the conference, the organization officially launched a new program, Communities2Gether, which will partner Jewish communities from around the world with communities from the Gaza border region. This will be an expansion of the Jewish Agency’s existing Partnership2Gether program (once known as Partnership 2000), which established a network of “sister cities” between North America and Israel.

Some of these partnerships have already been announced, including one between the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and Kibbutz Kissufim.

“The aim is for this to be a long-term partnership model that will help rebuild these Israeli communities, restore hope and lead them towards a prosperous future,” the Jewish Agency said in a statement.

During the conference, the board of governors will also hear from IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari about the military’s progress and the challenges it faces, as well as from Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Ayish, the deputy head of the Tekuma Authority, which is tasked with leading the government’s reconstruction efforts. Immigration Minister Ofir Sofer will also discuss his expectations of increased immigration as a result of rising antisemitism around the world. 

“This week’s Board of Governors meeting is an expression of the unconditional love global Jewish communities have for the State of Israel,” Jewish Agency Chairman Doron Almog said in a statement. “Their support strengthens the resilience of the only Jewish state in the world.”