Jul 21, 2014

Day 14: Update on Operation Protective Edge and Federation Response

Dear Colleagues,

We heard updates last week on the situation in Israel from our partners at The Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Today, Avi Ganon, CEO of World ORT Kadima Mada, shares his thoughts with us. Following his message are three reflections on life on the ground from Federation leaders on our missions.

Sincerely,

Jerry Silverman
President and CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America

Avi Ganon
CEO, World ORT Kadima Mada

Last week, I went back to visit Beer Sheva, the capital of the Negev and the city where I was born and raised. The visit was part of a solidarity mission that World ORT Kadima Mada organized for World ORT leaders to show support during this difficult time for the people and communities we work with in the south of Israel.

The visit to Beer Sheva was an emotional experience for me. It gave me a great sense of pride to see so many familiar faces and old friends, and to see the city coping so well despite the very tense situation. I know that its residents are in safe hands with their current mayor, Ruvik Danilovich, a good childhood friend of mine, who we met with on the trip.

In addition to visiting Sha’ar Hanegev High School, one of the Kadima Mada-affiliated schools near Gaza, we were able to gain access to one of the Iron Dome sites nearby. While we were there, we experienced first-hand two red alerts and had only 15 seconds to run to the nearby shelter.

The mission members left Israel with a great sense of accomplishment, and a better understanding of what World ORT Kadima Mada does and the impact we have. They return to their countries as more informed ambassadors, better able to represent and harness support for our projects here in Israel.

#LivingIt

Marty Haberer, Associate Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee

“I experienced five red alerts while we were in Israel. One in particular is worth mentioning. We were in Independence Hall, where Israel was declared a state by David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948 and after which Israel was promptly attacked by four surrounding countries.

“As we were watching the movie of the history of these events, a red alert went off and we were ushered in to the bomb shelter right there. I will never think of Independence Hall in the same way again.”

Fred Zimmerman, Member, JFNA Board of Trustees, Memphis Jewish Federation

“Wednesday morning, I went to pick up a car so I could drive to Hadera to meet the Campaigners Mission. As I was caught in traffic near the David Intercontinental the sirens went off. This wasn't the first time this trip I'd been in a red alert, but it was the first time I'd been in one when I was on my own…

"It took me a few seconds to decide to pull to the curb, get out of the car and follow some people into a bank office. We all stood there and listened as the Iron Dome did its thing: a group stood at the back and chatted, and one older woman stood by herself and quietly counted off the explosions ("shtayim boom…shalosh boom…arba boom?")…

“On the drive to Hadera I would find myself every so often looking at the side of the road for places to bail out if the siren sounded again.

“Squeaky bus hydraulics, the air conditioning in the hotel, even the transmission on my rental car, all had a noise that sounded like the red alert siren... I was starting to hear that sound everywhere. It wasn't just me, either; three Israeli friends said the same thing: you can't stop hearing it.”

Cindy Moskowitz, Board Chair, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas

“I’ve just returned from Israel, and the constant sirens alerting civilians to potential rocket fire is unnerving. Imagine receiving hundreds of tornado alerts over three days in an area smaller than North Texas. The sound of the siren sends everyone scrambling to shelter, and there is not a resident or visitor who does not know exactly where to go.

“I went into a shelter with a physically fit woman in a low-profile wheelchair. She could hardly get through the doorway to the safe room. It is untenable to live under the constant threat of rocket fire. We would never accept that condition here; we would expect our government to protect us. Israel has that same right and obligation to defend its citizens from attack.”

Visit our website at www.jewishfederations.org/stopthesirens.