Members of Local Synagogue Donate Two “Beautified Bomb Shelters” to Israel’s Gaza Envelope
BOCA RATON, Fla., October 20, 2023 —Within a week of the worst terrorist attack in Israel’s history, nearly 100 members of a synagogue in Boca Raton partnered with Jewish National Fund-USA to donate two “beautified bomb shelters” to residents living in Israel’s Gaza Envelope.
The project passionately led by Rabbi Rony Keller of Congregation B’nai Israel (CBI), who is also a member of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Rabbis for Israel affinity group, began as a High Holidays fundraising campaign but quickly turned into a showing of unity and solidarity for Israel after the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023.
Within days after the war began, CBI’s members mobilized to immediately support impacted Israelis and doubled their original collective donation goal — raising $20,000 for the future painting of two of these vital safety structures — an initiative that brings a touch of beauty to the region constantly besieged by rockets, while also making them less scary for children, especially when they are located near playgrounds or areas where children play.
Israelis living in the Gaza Envelope have only 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter when a missile siren goes off, therefore, bomb shelters are needed every couple of feet – they’re on highways, in parks, next to playgrounds, near community swimming pools, next to schools, and other community gathering areas. As part of Jewish National Fund-USA’s year-round work in the Gaza Envelope, the organization partners with a local Israeli artist to paint over the drab concrete with bright, colorful, whimsical designs, transforming them into one-of-a-kind murals and works of art.
“We were devastated to learn that some of these life-saving structures were targeted by Hamas while families were seeking shelter as missiles rained down from above,” said Jewish National Fund-USA Director, South Palm Beach, Liana Konhauzer. “Jewish National Fund-USA was there for these residents before the war, we are there for them now, and we will be there for them when this is all over. That’s what this campaign is really about. We’re currently making plans to rebuild and beautify the land of Israel in the future because we are certain Israel’s future is bright.”
Rabbi Keller felt a strong connection to Jewish National Fund-USA’s Bomb Shelter Beautification Initiative after seeing the painted shelters firsthand while attending the organization’s Rabbis for Israel Mission to Israel this past summer.
“My eyes were completely opened on the mission,” he said. “I realized the extent to which Jewish National Fund-USA works on the ground in Israel. It’s not just water solutions and planting trees, but making sure Israeli families are taken care of, and the extensive reach and incredible work they do go far beyond what most people know. I knew I had to get my congregation involved with this nonprofit, so I thought tzedakah in the form of painting bomb shelters for kids in Israel would be a beautiful mitzvah that would really resonate with our members.”
“People always talk about donating money to Israel, but it's hard to specifically see where your money goes,” he continued. With Bomb Shelter Beautification, people can see exactly where their charitable dollars go and appreciate knowing they are directly helping save lives. Who knows how many families, IDF soldiers, and even journalists covering the war may have been running to these shelters as the war rages on. I speak for my congregation when I say it’s been a privilege to participate in this project.”
Jewish National Fund-USA is raising emergency funds for immediate aid to impacted Israelis. To help the organization provide thousands of families with food, shelter, clothing, toiletries, firefighting and protective gear, psychological assistance for trauma, and more, contact Liana Konhauzer at LKonhauzer@jnf.org or donate directly at jnf.org/supportisrael
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.