Sunday, August 06, 2006

Please don't forget Israel's refugees still need help 

Israel's refugees from the North still need help. Since I haven't seen a clause in the upcoming UN resolution providing tehm any international assistance -- or even recognizing their existence for that matter -- they really need any help we can offer.

Here is a viwe of the situation from just my own city, Beit Shemesh, but I'm sure the situation is similar throughout Israel:

Three weeks into the War, and the situation on the Home Front is getting worse.

Thousands of Katyusha rockets have landed on towns and cities throughout the North of Israel; dozens of high-explosive longer range missiles are now reaching closer to the center of the country; there have been many fatalities; scores injured; vast damages to property & businesses....

Many thousands of people from the North have now left their homes to move to the (current) safety of the center and south of Israel.

One such family, currently in Beit Shemesh, learned on Friday that that their house in Tiberius had been totally destroyed by a direct rocket hit. Had they been still there, they are unlikely to have survived.

"Lema'an Achai" and Deputy Mayor Shalom Lerner, are heading the Beit Shemesh Community Coalition (including the Municipality, Community Centers, Schools, Charitable organisations, youth groups, and many individuals).

We are currently hosting over 350 refugees, in seven public buildings around Bet Shemesh.

On Friday we decided to welcome a further 200 refugees directly from the North, during this week.

Each person under our roof receives three cooked meals per day; basic sleeping facilities (mattresses on the floor, blankets); access to showers; bathrooms. During the day volunteers are running summer camp for the kids. Twice a week outings are arranged for everyone. Families are also matched with "buddy" families, to help with laundry and social needs.

In addition, we're serving 450 meals per day for Northern families who are being hosted by local families in Beit Shemesh.

That's One Thousand refugees by the end of this week.

In terms of the cost, each person under our roof costs around $10/day. In addition $3 for each meal to a person lodging with a host family. Current bill is around $5000 per day. And this rises each day. And nobody knows when this War will end...

Lema'an Achai has taken upon itself responsibility to pay the bill. We have not, and do not intend, to turn away a single family fleeing from the War, due to lack of funds.

We have received a very generous response & support from around the world, including a delegation from the Weisenthal Center of Los Angeles, who visited Lema'an Achai & the refugees last week, were moved and impressed by what they saw, and gave a $25,000 check on the spot.

But we still need far more funds to meet this ever-increasing and open ended community commitment to our fellow Jews in distress.

Any and all assistance you, your friends, family and colleagues can give will be very much appreciated and is sorely needed. All the funds received are for aiding the Northern Refugees for as long as this War lasts.... There is no organisational overhead for this volunteer-based project.

This is a direct and immediate way to help the People of Israel, in the Midst of War.

Do feel free to learn more about what Lemaan Achai is doing, including photos, on our website www.lemaanachai.org.

How to Donate: http://www.lemaanachai.org/donate.asp

To securely donate by credit card on-line https://www.lemaanachai.org/donate/index.asp

NOTE: If you donate to Lemaan Achai and can do so via secure credit card, sending your receipt to Elder of Ziyon's "Double your Donation" challenge will result in the matching of your donation (see here for more details and limitations).

UPDATE: Note, this highlighted section is a lightly edited email I'm republishing with permission. Many in my community are active in this charity, especially now, and I've seen the refugees they serve.
While the above gives some idea of the situation in one city, Beit Shemesh is just one city among many, so there are many opportunities to help. Other bloggers have done a great job of assembling links explaining how anyone can help. Check:

Elder of Ziyon's Tzedakah (charity) challenge. There are lots of pointers to places where you can help, and also the chance to pitch in with sponsorship to keep the challenge going.

JBlogosphere has another list of possibilities as well as links to many other blogs that have ideas of how to help.

Thank you for whatever help you can provide. I'm sure Yosef and Flora and the Mamah family, among others, appreciate it.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: