Community Unites in Solidarity with Israel in Altamonte Springs
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla., November 10, 2023 — More than 250 people attended Jewish National Fund-USA’s Breakfast for Israel on Friday, November 10, 2023, at the Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs in a powerful show of solidarity and unity with the Jewish State, and to cast a light into the darkness after the recent atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists.
The event’s featured speaker was Elie Klein, a Baltimore native who immigrated to Israel and is now a world advocate for the disability community, promoting inclusion, equity, and access around the globe. As Jewish National Fund-USA’s Liaison for ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, a world-class rehabilitation facility for people with disabilities located just 12 miles from the border with Gaza, Klein discussed how the village shifted into overdrive to heal even more of Israel’s wounded and keep its most vulnerable citizens safe and secure in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in Israel’s history.
Klein’s keynote speech focused on the enriching activities and creative therapies the facility utilizes to maximize the potential of Israeli children and young adults with severe disabilities, even during wartime; as well as the opening of a brand new ward at the Kaylie Rehabilitation Medical Center at ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran — the first and only rehabilitation hospital in southern Israel to provide all-inclusive medical, rehabilitative and emotional support for dozens of war-wounded Israel Defense Forces soldiers and civilians.
"As this horrific war rages on, it is essential that we consistently remind ourselves what we're fighting for and never allow our interest or passionate support of Israel to wane,” said Klein. “This war is about more than securing Israel's safety and maintaining its sovereignty — we are fighting for our very humanity. That's why I feel a responsibility to share the story of ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran far and wide, to highlight this bastion of compassionate care and acceptance as a shining example of the light we must harness to make it through these dark times."
Attendees also heard from Leah Shaindel Lieberman, a South Florida high school student who was attending Jewish National Fund-USA’s Alexander Muss High School in Israel study abroad program when the war broke out. She shared her experiences before and after that fateful day, and how after the attack, Lieberman and more than 150 students packed over 1,500 care packages containing essential items and collectively raised nearly $120,000 for displaced families.
In addition, local lay leaders discussed Jewish National Fund-USA’s Israel Resilience Campaign (jnf.org/supportisrael), which is supporting Israelis impacted by the war in the short and long term. Since October 7, 2023, the organization has supported the evacuation and relocation of tens of thousands of residents in Israel’s South and is providing thousands more with housing, food, clothing, and other supplies, education, activities for children, trauma therapy, firefighting apparatus and protective equipment for civil defense in vulnerable regions, and more.
“We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of men, women, young and elderly, and people of all abilities,” said President of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Orlando Board of Directors Mike Beim. “It could be years before they can return to their homes — if their homes still exist. Who is taking care of them? What is being done to care for them? What can I do to help? While the questions are simple, the solutions are incredibly complex. Think of everything a community accepting refugees would need: housing, food, medical supplies, schools, psychologists…and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“While we are not fighting on the frontlines, we are fighting for the Israelis who lost everything, had to leave everything behind, and are settling in communities far from home,” Beim added. “And those communities are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and the costs involved.”
For more information contact Harrison Shames, JNF-USA Senior Campaign Executive, Orlando, at 407.804.5568 x896 or HShames@jnf.org.
About Jewish National Fund-USA
Jewish National Fund-USA builds a strong, vibrant future for the land and people of Israel through bold initiatives and Zionist education. As a leading philanthropic movement, the organization supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south as it develops new communities in the Negev and Galilee, connects the next generation to Israel, and creates infrastructure and programs that support ecology, people with disabilities, and heritage site preservation, all while running a fully accredited study abroad experience through its Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Learn more at jnf.org.