In response to an escalation in rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel that has closed schools and brought life to a standstill, JNF is taking action to help the more than one million Israelis in cities and towns under attack. Working with Sderot Mayor David Bouskila, JNF is keeping its Sderot Indoor Recreation Center open 24 hours a day. The 21,000 square foot center doubles as a bomb shelter and is accommodating people on a rotating basis. Sleeping arrangements have been made, teachers have been brought in while schools remain closed, extra activities for children are being provided by the Green Horizons youth group, and services for seniors are being offered. “The indoor playground is a lifeline for us,” said Bouskila. “It gives the children a chance to be normal and has changed the way this city behaves and feels. It is the best thing that has happened to us.”
Newton’s Judi Elovitz Greenberg and her husband Norm are both long time JNF supporters. Judi is a member of JNF’s Sapphire Society, and Norm is a member of JNF’s Lawyers for Israel. In 2009, they were honored along with Judi’s parents, Elaine & Gerald Elovitz, and all funds raised were dedicated to a therapy room in the Sderot Indoor Recreation Center. Judi and Norm recently visited the playground for the first time while in Israel on a JNF mission. She shared, “Just a week ago, we watched the magic of the Sderot playground. Its gift of safety and comfort was sprinkled across the faces of the beautiful, happy children playing inside. Today, as I cry inside imagining the horror and fear these same children are experiencing now, my heart gets a little lighter when I know there is a happy, safe corner for them and hundreds of their friends and families. The Sderot playground is often referred to as a Giant Blue Box. I prefer to think of it as a great big JNF hug that is keeping our children safe and warm.”
JNF is also providing aid to Israeli firefighters, who have been on call 24 hours a day and are the first responders to rocket-ignited fires and rocket-related accidents. Donations are being used to purchase much-needed firefighting equipment, send food to fire stations, and provide personal toiletry kits to firefighters. “At this time of emergency in the South and in Israel, we thank you for standing with us,” said Ashkelon Fire Chief Yigal Zohar. “For the past couple of days we have left our own families in order to protect the people of Israel. We will continue doing so as long as necessary to save and protect the citizens of Israel.”
With rockets falling in the new community of Halutza on Israel’s Gaza border, JNF has committed funds to transport children out of the region. JNF’s contributions will finance transportation for students and educational staff, activities, and sleeping arrangements.
For more information, visit www.jnf.org/emergencyrelief or contact New England Director Sara Hefez at 617-423-0999 x811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(L to R) Judi Elovitz Greenberg, Mayor David Bouskila and Norm Greenberg, just one week ago in the Sderot Indoor Recreation Center.