Amidst ongoing challenges in Israel, individuals and organizations around the globe have stepped up to fill Israel's growing need for support. Inspired by the grassroots efforts we saw all around us, two weeks ago we created a pool of funding to help young adults in our network keep relief initiatives going. Dubbed #MakeItHappen: Eitanim micro grants, the name references the notion that the Jewish community’s strength comes from its unity (in Hebrew, eitanim is the plural form of “strong”). In just a few short days, we received over 80 applications and more than 60 recipients are now out making an impact. Applications are now closed.
Here, we share with you some examples of the projects that have received Eitanim funding. As we watched ideas roll in, we were increasingly touched and inspired by the strength, solidarity and sense of mutual responsibility demonstrated by so many in our communities who are stepping up to make a difference.
Helping to Support Ongoing Relief Efforts with #MakeItHappen Eitanim
ROI Community members David Kramer and Noa Margalit used their Eitanim micro grants to provide supplies to IDF soldiers serving in Gaza. Specifically, Noa secured a top-notch discount on good quality headlamps that she sent to IDF troops in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, David had the soldier's morale in mind. The founder of NU Campaign, David and his team are in the process of printing and delivering special “Thank You IDF” T-shirts to soldiers in Gaza, each with a protective verse of Psalms printed on the inside. So far, he and NU Campaign have already managed to deliver 5,000 shirts.
When soldiers and reservists are called to the front lines, their families are left with holding down the fort at home. With this in mind, seven Schusterman Connection Points alumni worked tirelessly with ROI Community member Shira Katz Vinkler, head of the Yerushalmit Movement, to provide aid to families with a parent in reserve duty. Yerushalmit’s relief has taken many forms, from sending hot meals to over 60 Jerusalem families last Friday, to setting up an impromptu summer camp to allow parents a few child-free hours to run necessary errands. If you live in Israel and are eager for a way to give back to the community, Yerushalmit is currently looking for volunteers. Contact Shira at [email protected] for more information.
This conflict has had an extremely disruptive effect on communities in the South of Israel. Parents and children have been forced to find daily refuge in bomb shelters and elderly people have been unable to complete their daily tasks in light of the chaos and danger caused by constant rocket fire. Many of our network members were eager to help. ROI Community member Noa Yaar used her micro grant funds to organize a field trip for approximately 35 children from the southern city of Ashkelon to visit the North, where they enjoyed a rocket-free afternoon playing outdoors with kangaroos at the Gan-Garoo petting zoo.
To help the elderly, Schusterman Connection Point alumnus Shalom Boguslavsky has a spa trip in the works for elderly Russian speakers living in the South. Set in a location that is out of range of Hamas rockets, Shalom’s goal is to provide this group with a much-needed break from the debilitating stress of their present reality. Additionally, businesses in the South have suffered serious financial losses due to lack of patronage. To offset this, ROI member and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Ofer Berkovitch immediately recognized southern shops’ need for a boost. With the help of his micro grant, Ofer developed an infrastructure through which citizens from central and northern Israel can support southern businesses facing tough times.
#MakeItHappen Eitanim micro grant initiatives, alongside many others, are having an effect on communities in need. In one of many moving messages that have come our way, ROI Community member Nissimi Naim-Naor wrote to us about his experience delivering Shabbat meals to the families of reserve soldiers with the Yerushalmit Movement. "Two of the women to whom I brought food for Shabbat cried tears of gratitude, relief and excitement," said Nissimi.
For anyone interested in lending a hand from near or far, we encourage you to browse this list of news resources, relief organizations and suggestions for how to get involved and make your voice heard. If you are located in Israel and would like to join coordinated relief efforts in the South, check out Lev Echad – Community Crisis Aid at www.levechad.org.