Press Releases

JDC Responds To Crisis In Israel

Contact:

Michael Geller / JDC Telephone: (212) 885-0838

Gil Shefler / JDC Telephone: (212) 885-0849

For Immediate Release

Since the crisis began, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's (JDC) assisted by funding from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and other donors immediately activated its network of programs for the most vulnerable Israelis to quickly ensure the needs and safety of the elderly, people with disabilities, and children and youth throughout the country as rockets rain down from Gaza.
 
JDC’s emergency response includes:
 
For the Elderly:
·      JDC’s Day Centers for the Elderly in Netivot, Merchavim, Sdot Negev, and Rahat delivering thousands of meals to the homebound and tends of thousands of elderly who regularly rely on the Centers for hot meals.
 
·      JDC’s "phone pal" program connecting elderly Russian-speakers living under rocket fire to family and friends at JDC Hesed social welfare centers in the former Soviet Union;
 
·      The deployment of 80 additional expert caseworkers dispatched to 13 locations throughout southern Israel to assist vulnerable elderly and Israelis with disabilities caught in the rockets’ path. Caseworkers join ongoing efforts to reach out and facilitate urgent assistance for those in need of hot meals, medicines, transportation, emotional support, groceries, medical care, or any other support to make it through the emergency period.
 
 
For People with Disabilities:
·      Newly appointed emergency coordinators for JDC’s Centers for Independent Living (community-based multi-service centers for Israelis with disabilities) in Tel Aviv and Beersheva and at JDC’s Accessible Community programs – which unite people with disabilities in activism and the lobbying of services and rights – working to provide care for people with disabilities by ensuring service delivery, emotional support, medical care, and others supplies for the homebound or those with physical disabilities.
 
·      The wide use throughout Israel of special emergency materials and manuals for people with disabilities that are now being used by the Home Front Command and Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services. This is an initiative of JDC’s Israel Unlimited partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation and Government of Israel.
 
·      Reshet Bitachon, another JDC Israel Unlimited partnership initiative, is an internet-based program which allows people with disabilities to participate in supervised chat rooms; connect directly to tips for dealing with emergencies; or contact a local professional social worker who can help them through the immediate difficulty and if needed, refer them onward for additional professional assistance, that is being actively used throughout Southern Israel.
 
For Children & Youth
·      500 JDC youth volunteers are providing activities to children who are in bomb shelters in Ashkelon, Sderot and Netivot. JDC is supplying nearly 1,000 activity kits for children in the shelters: each kit serves approximately 20 children and are filled with arts & crafts supplies, board and card games, sports balls, building blocks, and other recreational materials.
 
·      JDC’s Better Together program for families in low-income neighborhoods is creating alternative recreational activities for children in the range of the rocket fire, with an emphasis on activities for children who may have to endure extended stays in bomb shelters.
 
·      JDC’s Center for Young Adults in Sderot is welcoming children and families to utilize the safe space available at the facility, and young adult volunteers are developing activities to occupy the city’s children, who due to the crisis cannot participate in the usual summer activities.
 
·      The Red Alert song – developed by JDC in 2008 to address post-traumatic stress among children living under constant rocket fire in Sderot – is having a huge revival—with some 50,000 hits on YouTube since the crisis began.  The song is a part of a series of therapies that JDC developed and disseminated to help children cope by expressing their fears and anxieties using hand and body movements.

·      The Red Alert song – developed by JDC in 2008 to address post-traumatic stress among children living under constant rocket fire in Sderot – is having a huge revival—with some 50,000 hits on YouTube since the crisis began.  The song is a part of a series of therapies that JDC developed and disseminated to help children cope by expressing their fears and anxieties using hand and body movements.

For All Populations:
·      JDC Respite Relief programs for a range of vulnerable populations – at-risk families, children & youth, people with disabilities, needy elderly – include one to three day respite excursions out of heavily bombarded areas with special arrangements for accessible transportation.

·      A coordinator for JDC's Better Together program created a Whatsapp group for mothers in southern communities to help reduce stress and improve communications. So far the app has helped neighbors coordinate purchases of foodstuffs and other commodities, and bettered reactions to siren warnings.
 
JDC is working closely with Israel’s Ministries of Social Affairs and Social Welfare, Education, and Health; the Home Front Command, and the National Emergency Network. JDC’s experience in responding to past emergency situations in Israel — during the second intifada, the Second Lebanon War, the Carmel Fires disaster, and Operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense — is being put to work to ensure that support and assistance can be delivered quickly and effectively.

About JDC

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

For more information, please visit www.JDC.org.

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