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JUF sending another $1.2 million in relief to residents of Sderot region

Funds provide mentoring, respite and recreational programs for hundreds of the area's most socially and economically disadvantaged kids and families.

Sderot kids image
Children from Sderot taken out of harms way for a brief respite from Hamas rocket fire.

More than $1.2 million from the Jewish United Fund’s Israel Emergency Campaign is on its way to help residents of Israel’s Sderot region cope with the heavy psychological and economic toll of living with incessant rocket attacks from nearby Gaza.

The funding, the latest in continuing efforts to support and care for the area’s residents, will provide mentoring, respite and recreational programs for hundreds of the most socially and economically disadvantaged kids and families. It also will underwrite a major portion of initiatives there that were just approved by United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization for North American Jewish Federations.

Over the past seven years, more than 7,000 rockets launched by Hamas and other terrorist groups have landed in Sderot and the surrounding region. In recent weeks, there often have been dozens each day. At least 13 people have been killed, hundreds have been injured, and virtually no one in the area has been left emotionally unscathed.

“I have been in Sderot when the rocket alerts sounded and everyone around me, children and adults, raced for cover,” said JUF President Steven Nasatir. “I’ve seen and felt the terror these people live with every single day. They need our help and, just as importantly, they need to know they are not alone, that the Jewish community in Chicago and around the world stands with them.”

Part of the money just approved by JUF will support the Youth Futures program in Sderot. The program pairs young adult mentors with 175 socially disadvantaged youngsters, helping them build self esteem and academic achievement and, ultimately, giving them a chance to break the cycle of poverty.

Another part of the allocation will provide respite for the families of Youth Futures participants, giving them a break from the constant stress of life in the area and offering resources and opportunity to strengthen the relationships between parents and children.

JUF also is providing “MATNAS on Wheels,” a van that will enable the Community Centers of Sderot to bring its educational and recreational services directly to the city’s children, teens and adults.

The United Jewish Communities funding covers a wide array of efforts, including training for professionals who respond to emergency needs and deal with post-traumatic issues; services for children and youth, both in school and out; programs for the elderly, disabled, immigrants and other groups with special or unique needs; and efforts to promote economic recovery.

To date, UJC – with major support from JUF – has provided more than $21 million for the region’s needs.

This latest funding, focusing on the Sderot region, is just one result of JUF’s Israel Emergency Campaign, which was launched just days after the Second Lebanon War began in July 2006. By the end of 2007, more than $43 million had been raised to provide humanitarian aid, social services and economic assistance to Israelis living within range of the fighting, both in the north and in the area bordering Gaza.

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