Background- From the moment that missiles began falling on Israel’s south and center as well, already this past Sunday the IMPJ, the umbrella organization of all Reform congregations and institutions in Israel, responded immediately using experience and infrastructure built during the Pillar of Cloud Operation less than two years ago. Lead by our humanitarian relief organization, Keren BeKavod (Fund for Dignity) IMPJ teams visited Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gedera, Sderot, Beer Sheva, and all the regional councils in the south and mapped needs and began organizing a response. A call for volunteers went out to all the congregations and communities of the IMPJ already on Tuesday and there has been an immediate response.
Based on our mapping of need it is our analysis that the most urgent need is for activities for “weak” families with a special focus on children. It is important to note that our “hosen” group of Ethiopian women which was establish during the Pillar of Cloud Operation in Gedera has already set up a “home day camp” for Ethiopian children showing that efforts made during the previous campaign are impacting today from the moment the situation deteriorated.
The IMPJ, led by Keren He Kavod, our humanitarian relief arm (as the bombs began falling over Israel’s south, center,and even as far north as Zikron Yaacov) immediately began carrying out the following emergency response activities.
Emergency Activity Packages- Weak families are in a situation where they are stuck at home and have no means of occupying the children. In many of the towns and cities in the south day camps have been cancelled. Some groups as noted above have spontaneously organized “home day camps”. We are supporting both individual families and home day camps by preparing and distributing 2000 emergency activity packages. These packages which Keren BeKavod has proven experience in organizing include games, interactive modules, and supplies that help productively occupy families and children. The packages are being prepared and distributed by our volunteers under the professional guidance of Keren Be Kavod. Yesterday the campers at the IMPJ youth summer camp, packed hundreds of these packages that are being distributed.
Hosting Families and Children in the North and Arava
Very much connected with the need to occupy children in the shelters is the need to give children and their families days of “relaxation and rest” from the bombings and life in the shelter. The following are programs that will take place over the next few days.
IMPJ Havaya Summer Camp- Next week the Havaya Summer Camp of Noar Telem (the IMPJ youth movement) will open its doors and add to its existing campers another 50 youth from the south of Israel (between ages 9-14). A special “fun” program will be developed for the youth who will be completely integrated with the existing participants in the camp and participate in Educational field trips and visit special attractions.
Family Hosting- with Families from IMPJ Congregations in the North and at Kibbutz Yahel and Kibbutz Lotan in the South
Our congregations and communities in the North along with the Leo Baeck Academic Campus and Community Center in Haifa, and Kibbutz Yahel and Lotan in the arava have agreed to host families and children in homes of members (in the case of Kibbutz Yahel and Lotan in their guest house facilities)- We are expecting to implement this next week. The congregations and communities in addition to hosting will arrange cultural, touring, and recreational activities for the families.
These are just a few of the steps that the IMPJ is immediately implementing as a response to the emergency situation. Additionally the IMPJ will carry out a set of mid and long term responses to the situation as well.
There has been an outpouring of volunteers from IMPJ congregations including those living with sirens.
We all pray for an end to the conflict, for minimal suffering on all sides, and for peace.