With an overwhelming number of Israelis traumatized from running in and out of air-raid shelters, ORT’s operational arm in Israel, World ORT Kadima Mada, responded immediately to the emergency situation, mobilizing to provide educational and recreational activities for children in shelters and a respite for families in some of the worst affected communities.
Families from the south of Israel began heading north last week. These are the first of some 2,000 people for whom ORT is providing respite at the youth village of Hodayot. Nearby, educational programs have been organized at Mada Park, World ORT’s Alex and Betty Schoenbaum Science, Educational, Cultural and Sports Campus in Kiryat Yam.
At the same time, through ORT’s Kadima Mada YOU-niversity Centers of Excellence program for Science and Technology, educational and recreation activities are being provided in public air raid shelters for children in Kiryat Gat and Dimona. Special enrichment classes in science and technology, including robotics, have been adapted for the unusual circumstances.
Similar enrichment activities for children remaining in the south will continue throughout the summer months. ORT is committed to providing these programs in Arab, as well as Druze and Jewish areas.
“Many of Israel’s children are now able to enjoy their summer break thanks to ORT’s unique programming that keeps them constructively occupied during this volatile time,” said West Coast Region Director of ORT America Igal Zaidenstein. “The ongoing conflict forces them to stay in shelters or in protected areas. We want to relieve their distress from the tension of the sirens and allow them to have a normal childhood.”
ORT has been asked by the government and local communities to increase the numbers of young people in the programs exponentially. Funds are urgently needed. The most effective way of providing financial support is through ORT’s partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). Your support of the JFNA Emergency Campaign, through its national website or through the local Jewish Federation office, will support ORT’s emergency programming. To give directly to ORT Kadima Mada in Israel, please contact your local ORT America office in Los Angeles by calling Igal Zaidenstein, West Coast Regional Director, at (323) 966.0093, or by email at izaidenstein@ORTamerica.org.
“There is much work to do here to enable Israelis to go about their daily lives, particularly for kids in the south who are living in fear and unable to participate in their normal summer activities. Together, we can meet this challenge,” explained World ORT Director General and CEO Shmuel Sisso.
Credit: Marcia P. Neeley served as Executive Director of Marketing & Communications for UJA-Federation of New York.