When they heard the siren, the three Israeli preschoolers did what their parents had been teaching them for Holocaust Remembrance Day: They put down their toys and stood still to honor the memory of the dead.
A frantic mother whisked the little girls to the bomb shelter before the rockets hit.
She hugged her weeping daughters close in the shelter, whispering that this was a different kind of siren -- one that means they must run for their own lives.
The emergency situation in Israel's south, with 700 terrorist rockets launched since Saturday morning, has killed four Israelis and seriously injured scores more. For the moment, there is an uneasy calm. But in JUF's Partnership Region of Kiryat Gat-Lachish-Shafir, 80-year-old Allegria Ben Acken is fighting for her life. She is well-known to many Chicagoans as the mother-in-law of the director of the JUF-supported immigrant absorption center in Kiryat Gat.
With, sadly, decades of experience in responding to such crises, JUF offers condolences and prayers. But the response only begins there. Even as we mourn for the dead and pray for the wounded, your JUF dollars are at work on the ground, providing critical aid -- and showing our Israeli brothers and sisters they are not alone:
- Ofer Bavly, Director General of JUF's Israel office, is personally delivering emergency cash to families from the Jewish Agency for Israel's Fund for Victims of Terror. The Fund was created nearly two decades ago to provide such immediate response, and JUF long has been one of its leading supporters.
- JUF-backed emergency trauma teams, established five years ago, took to the streets, providing vital real-time data on the status of public shelters, elderly in need, and more
- Throughout the targeted areas, JUF-supported hotlines were activated while caregivers began outreach to new and existing clients
- Following a direct rocket hit on a Bedouin city, JUF's agencies on the ground worked with the Bedouin resilience team and communal leaders to support the victims, among them many children. Requests for help spiked, despite stigmas around mental health issues in the Bedouin community.
- Another JUF partner agency launched critical online resources in three languages for people with disabilities.
- Safe rooms in immigrant absorption centers and Amigour senior housing facilities across the region were ready when needed because they had been structurally reinforced and equipped with supplies.
- Respite activities were provided for families confined to bomb shelters.
- Some families along the Gaza border were evacuated out of harm's way.
JUF and its partners are able to respond immediately to such crises because of the infrastructure created to be respond when the need is most urgent, when victims feel most alone. Thanks to your support of the JUF Annual Campaign, they are not alone.