50 Homes, One Voice; All for Sderot ‘Moms for Israel’ to Give Respite to Sderot’s Children
Contact: Jodi Bodner • JNF Director of Communications • 212-879-9305 ext. 221 • firstname.lastname@example.org
May 23, 2008 -- New York,
To date, more than 50 homes have signed on to host meetings in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Palm Beach, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Cincinnati, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona and even Paris and Hong Kong!
The goal is to send all of the approximately 3,000 of Sderot’s school-age children to summer camps in other parts of the country for at least five days of respite.
“As summer was nearing and we started getting our kids ready to go to camp, we realized we just had to something for the children of Sderot,” said
Berkman and her friend Sarah Sternklar -- both mothers themselves -- who founded Art for Israel during the war with Hezbollah, also raised money last summer to fund a Magen David Adom Emergency Services Center in Sderot. When they went for the dedication just recently and saw the desolate streets with no sign of normal everyday activity, they knew they had to do more.
“When parents in Sderot kiss their children good night, they can never tell them, ‘don’t worry, it will be alright,’” said Sternklar. “That realization had a profound effect on us.”
Sderot first came under rocket fire from Palestinians in 2001, but since Israel withdrew from Gaza the number of rockets attacks has risen significantly. In recent months, rocket fire has become an almost daily event. There have been days that 50 rockets were launched from Gaza into Sderot.
Studies have shown that at least 75 percent of children ages 4-18 in Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress, including sleep disorders and severe anxiety. They suffer nightmares, loss of appetite and problems in school. Some 120 children are currently undergoing long-term mental health therapy.
“The ‘Moms for Israel’ campaign is designed to appeal to women,” said Elisa Schindler, JNF’s National Director of Women's Campaign for Israel & Special Campaigns. “Women -- mothers, grandmothers, and aunts -- can relate when they hear that the mothers in Sderot are keeping their children inside, depriving them of normal childhood activities in the hopes that they will be safe from the barrage of rocket attacks.”
“We are a partnership of women, banding together at the same time to help our children in Sderot,” said Berkman, “It’s a very powerful feeling, a very powerful message.”
From the time a siren goes off indicating an incoming rocket, Sderot’s residents only have 15 seconds to make their way to a bomb shelter; not enough time if you’re a young child playing outside with friends or riding around the neighborhood on your bicycle, or really doing anything that kids do. So they don’t do anything.
Said Schindler: “’Moms for Israel’ aims to help relieve mothers’ stress, to help give children a respite from these attacks, and to help put a smile back on Sderot’s residents’ faces.”
A five-day summer camp experience costs $500 per child. This includes round-trip transportation, hiking, activities, food, accommodations traditional camp activities-- and best of all respite and a chance to be a kid.
For more information or to donate, go to www.jnf.org/momsforisrael or call 888-JNF-0099.
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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.
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