Speaking via a Zoom call from an aliyah absorption centre in Karmiel in northern Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel’s CEO, Amira Ahronovitz, updated how donations to the Victims of Terror Fund Emergency Appeal are being used, to an audience at a UIA event at Sydney’s Central Synagogue on November 13.
Ahronovitz said efforts are concentrated on assisting the most vulnerable groups such as lone soldiers, new olim, the elderly and displaced residents; providing direct relief measures, ongoing rehabilitative services; and boosting safety and security infrastructure.
She provided some remarkable figures, “to help understand the scale of this. In the last five weeks, we have provided more than 200,000 meals to those evacuated from high-risk areas of Israel.
“We have already provided over 5500 immediate cash grants to people who are injured, who have lost a family member, or who have been evacuated, and also grants to more than 700 small businesses.
“Thousands of people have called our 24-hour support hotline.
“Through Amigour, engineers are going into the 43 kibbutzim and villages in the Gaza border area to assess the damage.”
She stressed that not only immediate support is needed, but ongoing support, “for the next three to five years, for the affected families and individuals”.
“We’re also looking to do that by partnering every impacted community in the south with a community in the Jewish Diaspora, including Australia.
“The estimated needs … require over $200 million and unfortunately, those needs will grow.
“None of what I’ve shared with you could be done without our partners around the world and the leadership of UIA Keren-Hayesod.
“I want to specifically thank you – the entire Jewish community of Australia – for dedicating your care, your resources and your influence.”
Addressing the audience in person, Steven Lowy – Keren Hayesod-UIA’s World Board of Trustees chair – said, “The relationship between Diaspora Jewry and Israel is unbreakable and the mobilisation, the solidarity, love and care, that we’ve seen in the last month, has proven that without a doubt.
“Keren-Hayesod has already received and distributed 18 million US dollars, immediately, to the victims of terror in Israel,” Lowy said.
“Sadly, I think this is just the start [of what’s needed], but I’m sure we’ll be successful.
“Our job is to be at one with Israel.”