Israel Overseas: March 2024 Department News

Since October 7, Jewish Federation of Detroit has allocated over 11 Million dollars to many NGO’s in Israel including the Jewish Agency for Israel’s (JAFI), Victims of Terror Fund. See below for a recent update from JAFI’s Chairman, Mark Wilf, which includes a description of their new program, Campers2Gether, which JFD is taking part in by bringing 20 Israeli refugees though our already established Israeli Camper Program.

This Thursday marks five months since the October 7 attacks. Our hearts still ache with the pain of loss and devastation. The ongoing war brings new tragedies daily, with 134 hostages in Hamas captivity, soldiers sacrificing their lives, and hundreds of thousands of Israelis displaced from their homes. Around the world, the surge in antisemitism is relentless, with Jews attacked simply for being Jewish.

Yet, amidst the turmoil, The Jewish Agency stands resolute. We continue to provide crucial aid to over 8,000 shattered families through our Fund for Victims of Terror. We’re rehabilitating devastated communities near Gaza, supporting Israeli small businesses, and helping municipalities rebuild. Our Shlichim globally connect with hundreds of thousands of Jews, fostering resilience in communities.

Last week, 200 leaders convened for our first Board of Governors meeting since the war began. We honored our Fund for Victims of Terror team’s tireless efforts. We heard the heartbreaking story of Hersh, abducted by Hamas at the Nova Festival, shared by Jonathan and Rachel Goldberg Polin, and the plight of Eitan and Yair Horn, kidnapped from their kibbutz, told by Dalia Cusnir, a Jewish Agency employee.

In solidarity, we passed a resolution calling for increased efforts to ensure the immediate release of hostages in Gaza, born from shared grief and unwavering hope.

We also announced Campers2Gether, which aims to provide a place of healing and connection for 1,500 Israeli teens affected by the war at summer camps around the world. The teens will arrive to summer camps in groups of up to 20, each group accompanied by dedicated staff and mental health professionals. The program is in partnership with Jewish Federations of North America, Summer Camps Israel, the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Mosaic United, Keren Hayesod, and Zionist Youth Movements.

Last week, we were honored by the Genesis Prize for the second year in a row, for our work supporting October 7 victims and their families through our Fund for Victims of Terror. Whether it’s providing emergency aid to victims of terror or facilitating Aliyah of rescue, we are privileged to be the first responder for Jews around the world. While we are honored to be recognized, we know that none of this crucial work would be possible without our partners, supporters and thousands of dedicated staff and volunteers around the world.

As we navigate the aftermath, our resolve remains unyielding. Together, we pray for the safe return of captives and swift recovery of the wounded. Thank you for standing with us.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Mark Wilf