NEW YORK, April 2, 2024 – Nearly six months since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) issued a call for increased support for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis impacted by spiking unemployment, displacement, and widespread trauma. JDC has now shifted its emergency response to address these needs through new large-scale initiatives reviving frontline cities and towns; fueling economic recovery, job training, and placement; and supporting emotional and physical healing. To date, JDC’s emergency services have directly aided 120,000 of the hardest-hit Israelis.

“The number of Israelis reliant on social support has grown exponentially since Oct 7th. We are addressing their needs in real time and on a grand scale—bringing together coalitions of NGOs, the business sector, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and the government to help rebuild individual lives and strengthen the whole country as it sets a path to recovery,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “This effort will last for many months and years ahead, part of our commitment to ensuring all Israelis have a brighter future. We do this urgent work while praying for the return of the remaining hostages in Gaza and, above all, for peace.”

Israel’s battered frontlines cities just outside the Gaza envelope and those under bombardment in the north were already home to vulnerable people, but the war has resulted in tens of thousands more who have lost jobs or businesses, survived attacks, or have become disabled. JDC’s new Mashiv Haruach (Reviving Spirit) program is currently building community resilience, healing, and sustainable recovery in Ofakim, Ashkelon, Rahat and expanding to Nahariya in the north. The initiative offers a menu of innovative emergency response practices, upgraded social services, and economic aid to lift all residents. These services are replicable and when scaled to dozens of cities and towns around Israel, could reach millions of people.

Israel’s economy has been devastated by the war, with its GDP reduced by nearly 20%, and an additional 100,000 Israelis seeking jobs, including evacuees and reservists who have returned from military service without employment. JDC deployed a fleet of mobile job training units and partnerships with employers to build a training and placement initiative to reskill this workforce and get them into available jobs. Additionally, JDC implemented a customized business support program that works with small business owners and farms to ensure they can continue operating. This program includes the creation of new business plans and online platforms to increase revenue and reach, and professional consultants to guide the implementation. More than 1,100 struggling small businesses, farms, factories, and industries have already benefited from JDC’s emergency support.

In addition to this, JDC is providing wide-reaching mental health and trauma support through online and new tech resources as well as early childhood and teen development programs for youth whose lives have been derailed by displacement and loss, filling gaps in their learning and reestablish routines.

JDC’s emergency response to date has been supported by the Jewish Federations and tens of thousands of foundations, families, corporations, and individual donors to:

• Provide 120,000 Israelis with direct aid, including food and cash assistance; education, welfare, and employment services; mental health solutions, and online and mobile social services.
• Deploy training and tools to more than 42,000 professionals engaged in crisis response and trauma programs.
• Ensure professional guidance and support to more than 1,800 NGOs and municipalities providing emergency services and relief around Israel.

Before October 7th, one million Israelis every week were touched by social services created by JDC. Since its founding in 1914 to aid starving Jews in Jerusalem impacted by the outbreak of WWI, JDC has invested in excess of 10 billion shekels to improve the lives of Israel’s most vulnerable, to close social gaps, and to ensure opportunity for all Israelis.