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#LivingIt: Stories from Israel Amidst Conflict

#LivingIt: Stories from Israel Amidst Conflict

For millions of Israelis, the summer has been punctuated by warning sirens and rocket blasts, lived between the bleak walls of bomb shelters.

At every stage of the conflict with Hamas, The Jewish Federations of North America and its partner agencies – including the Union for Reform Judaism – have been there. From providing relief from the line of fire for 81,000 children to delivering food and medicine to tens of thousands of isolated seniors and people with disabilities, JFNA has been working tirelessly to meet the urgent needs of Israel’s most vulnerable populations.

JFNA is also addressing the long-term effects of life under fire. Civilians traumatized by constant rocket fire need intensive counseling. First responders working around the clock on the front lines need relief. And communities need assistance rebounding and rebuilding for a resilient future. 

Here are a few on-the-ground accounts of life in Israel during these trying times, from JFNA’s #LivingIt series on their Stop the Sirens campaign page.

  • Finding a Safe Space for Family
    The apartment in Sderot is too small for Eden, Lior and their two young children. But it’s secure, with a safe room built by Amigour, The Jewish Agency’s housing subsidiary. Eden stays home with the kids. The three of them sleep in the tiny safe room while Lior—who can wake up quickly and move faster if a siren sounds—sleeps on the couch. When a siren sounded in the middle of the night, Lior ran into the safe room right before a rocket hit, destroying much of their home. Amigour has since restored their apartment. While the fear of another rocket hangs over their heads, they know they at least have a safe space.
     
  • From Talia Nechama in Beer Sheva 
    The siren goes off just as Talia Nechama is about to start a meeting at the Ye’elim Absorption Center in Beer Sheva. After she runs to the center’s bomb shelter, Talia frantically searches for her phone to call her 12-year-old daughter, who is home alone babysitting a younger sibling. It's agonizing to be so far from her children. “I have to be strong for my children,” says Talia. “If I break, what’s left?”
     
  • From Shlomo in Sderot, Teens Get Personal 
    Growing up in Sderot, Shlomo has spent a lifetime on the lookout for rockets. The 17-year-old knows how to cope. So during Operation Protective Edge, Shlomo and his friends from Turning Point, a JDC-supported program, decided to support teens now living under fire in Beer Sheva by sharing their survival tips. To Shlomo, these person-to-person connections also strengthen Israel as a whole. “We can only empower our forces in the field if civilians are strong and united,” he says. “That's our contribution to the effort."
     
  • Supporting a Home-Bound Senior 
    Edit Charmi lives alone in Ashkelon — no small feat for a 94-year-old. Now trapped in her house because of unending sirens, she feels isolated from human contact. But visits from Shai Zigdon, from JDC’s Supportive Communities network, help ease her loneliness. Shai checks in on Edith, providing crucial help around the house and identifying any emergency needs. “Anything you need, I am here for you,” Shai tells her.

Read more #LivingIt stories at www.jewishfederations.org/stopthesirens, where you can also donate to the Stop the Sirens campaign. We may not be able to stop the sirens – but together, can can help mitigate their impact on Israelis living under fire.

Sherri Cohen and Samantha Shokin, writers from The Jewish Federations of North America, help manage JFNA’s communications related to Operation Protective Edge

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