Much of the money raised during and after the Gaza war went to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's partnership community in Netivot-Sedot Negev.
Israelis living in communities around the Gaza border were under increased threat this summer, and the Jewish community in Philadelphia took notice.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia raised $1.6 million during and after the Gaza war as part of its Israel Emergency Fund campaign, much of which went to Philadelphia’s partnership community in Netivot-Sedot Negev and the larger Netivot region.
The local organization sent $677,000 of that money to Jewish Federations of North America’s “Stop the Sirens” emergency campaign, which has thus far allocated $21 million to humanitarian causes related to the war between Israel and Hamas, including those helping traumatized teens and children and the disabled in Israel.
The remaining funds raised locally will provide residents of Netivot and Sedot Negev with items like food, portable bomb shelters and toys for children, and also help refurbish the clubhouses where soldiers who are operating the Iron Dome missile defense can relax, according to Jeri Zimmerman, the director of the Federation’s Center for Israel and Overseas.
“These are our brothers and sisters on the frontline fighting against Islamic terrorism,” said Zimmerman. The Federation has had a partnership with the communities along the Gaza border since 1997, sending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to those communities to help spur economic development and address social service needs.
“When we refer to them as our family, we mean it,” she said.
The local federation had allocated almost all the money raised by the start of this month after a “very complicated process” in which local officials worked with staff in Israel and organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel to ensure that all the funds were used as “wisely as possible,” said Federation CEO Naomi Adler, who visited the Negev communities as part of a July mission that happened to coincide with the escalation of the Israel-Gaza conflict, and is slated to return during another trip later this month.
“During the war and in the aftermath, we have realized there are enormous amounts of people who have been impacted and traumatized,” said Adler. “We need to address that so we’re prepared in the future and so the population is as resilient as possible.”