I am writing to you with the busy clatter of cooking going on in my kitchen.
I am writing to you as both you and I prepare to gather with our family and friends and reflect on that for which we are grateful.
I am writing to you as Israelis wonder if the new ceasefire will hold.
During the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense, news battered us from all sides. We held our breath as Hillary Clinton arrived on the scene, only to hear of more wounded and dead and then the bus exploded.
Even as the ceasefire begins, the children of Israel sit in shelters, large gatherings are banned and schools remain closed.
I am not writing to you to present a recap of the news in Gaza but to report to you about the efforts on the home-front. As we witnessed, the pounding of missiles in the South of Israel was unrelenting; what we could not witness was the unforgiving terror these rockets created in every heart. Even now everyone must always be within 30 seconds of a shelter. Parents, children, and the elderly have to always be aware of each other and the fastest route to comparative safety. Schools are closed, businesses are boarded up, and everyone is locked together indoors twenty four hours a day.
These children, their parents, and their grandparents are the unreported victims of this onslaught.
In response to this, Ameinu’s strategic partner Dror Israel mobilized. They created programs away from the rockets to give residents in the South a chance to breath. Dror Israel first honed these programs to perfection during the 2nd Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead and their experience then has allowed them to be first to respond again now.
Dror Israel has dedicated itself to providing respite programs – to take 1000’s of children from their shelters in the South to relative quiet farther north. In the dark of night (the safest time to move on the roads) busses are filled with youngsters as young as 10 and driven to Dror Israel Kibbutzim away from the shelling for days of relaxation and a bit of fun. Youth leaders from Dror Israel provide activities, tell stories, and give hugs to those who need it so much.
Renting buses, mobilizing teachers, social workers and psychologists, purchasing supplies for thousands of arts projects—all this costs money.
Israelis in the South need Dror Israel’s help and Dror Israel needs your help. Please help them now.
But the program is bigger than that. Dror Israel also brings up 16 and 17 years old for a day-long session on how to work with those back home, children younger than 10 who are too young to leave their parents but who deserve to smile as well. These freshly trained 16 and 17 year olds go back to the shelters and lead the children in games, songs, arts and crafts, and again…hugs.
This not only brings smiles to the children but provides their parents with a much needed break. Dror Israel provides a time for them to run to the store to go buy food without endangering their children by taking them away from the safety of shelters. It gives the parents time to look in on THEIR parents, many too frail to be able to run to a shelter in 30 seconds, who therefore find themselves day in and day out in a cramped windowless room.
Current events unfold fast in the Middle East. Between the time I started this letter and now, the ceasefire when into place and we are all watchfully hoping that it will take hold. While I hope that this is true, it is not being described as the long term truce we had been hoping for.
I just spoke with members of Dror Israel in Israel and they are continuing their efforts. Schools remain closed for now so the busses are rented, the leaders engaged, and the children are looking forward to the trip they had been promised.
Dror Israel will keep that promise but they need your help.
Please, as you are about to celebrate Thanksgiving – let us truly make it a holiday of giving.
Go to the Ameinu secure donation portal here and join the effort to bring calm to the children of Israel.
Ameinu, National Director
P.S. While we all hope that the fighting is over, the damage has already been done. The healing needs to begin. Please do your part to help Dror Israel do theirs.