Monday, January 5, 2009

My friend Kayla (often mentioned in these pages) works for Keshet, the Center for Educational Tourism in Israel. Just as they did during the Second Lebanon War, they are redirecting their financial and personnnel resources to providing aid to Israelis under attack. If any of you are looking for a way to help--well, here is a way.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, and (honestly) I really do need to get some work done here, I am copying over the email I got from Kayla.

Keshet Israel Relief Fund- December 2008

Dear Friends,

Shalom. I am writing to you either because you have supported the activities of the Keshet Israel Relief Fund (KIRF)in the past or because you are a member or friend of the Keshet family - participants on one of the hundreds of unique Israel experiences created by Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel or its new partner: the Israel Studies Institute (ISI). As we have done during past emergencies- during the intifada and the last war in Lebanon- we are mobilizing our staff and dedicating our financial resources to make a difference in the current situation in Israel. To date, 6,980 missiles have been fired into Israel from the Gaza strip, causing loss of live, injuries, property damage and terrorizing the civilian population, leaving them feeling vulnerable and frightened. To view the film we made about the situation before the IDF's operation, take a look at this link, which shows the situation through the eyes of several mental health professionals in Sderot:

We are now joining together with the Lev Echad (One Heart) organization to do what we can to help out. We have already begun to bring buses of student volunteers to Sderot in order to run activities for children who are now restricted to shelters. The goal of this activity is two-fold: 1) to make their forced stay underground less lonely and frightening and 2) to minimize the natural desire of children to leave the confines of the shelter for simple errands or just go out "for air" and thus expose themselves to danger. Over 1000 volunteers have already registered for this program! We are working to cover the costs of these young people's activities, which include approximately $15 per volunteer for transportation per day and $10 per volunteer for food per day. In addition, we are now in touch with the community social workers in Sderot, Netivot and Ashkelon and making plans to provide alternative housing in youth hostels for particularly difficult cases of families who are not able to cope with the pressures of living under attack. It is not our purpose or within our capacity to relocate thousands of people, but by using the social workers "on the ground" as our eyes and ears and by funding alternatives for particularly difficult situations we believe that we will be making a critical contribution. In particular we are trying to assist single parent families, the elderly and Ethiopian families who generally lack a support network that can provide alternative housing in an emergency.

Our representative, Yuval Sokoloff, is already based in Sderot coordinating the volunteer project with Lev Echad. I will be joining him shortly to explore ways to provide more assistance and to give you a personal view of the situation.

We would very much appreciate it if were you able to add a personal introduction and circulate this request to individuals whom you believe would appreciate the opportunity to assist in this way.

As in the past, our goal is to provide immediate relief upon the receipt of contributions to our efforts. Keshet has therefore undertaken to extend its own resources to supply funding and financial commitments to suppliers such as bus companies, food providers and hostels as soon as we receive commitments from our donor base and using our own resources even before receiving actual payment.

Funds should be made out to the Keshet Israel Relief Fund or Informed Choice for Israel and mailed to the following: Informed Choice for Israel244 North Ave New Rochelle, NY 10801

Transfers can be accepted to the following account: 726209182 with routing number 021000021 JP Morgan Chase ICI is in the final stages of receiving tax exempt status from the IRS and will soon be able to issue tax exempt receipts for contributions.

Thank you for being our partners in this important effort.

Yitzhak Sokoloff

Executive DirectorKeshet: The Center for Education Travel in Israel..

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