Israel at War: Expanding our response

As promised, we will keep updating you about evolving philanthropic needs on the ground. Basically, all that I said yesterday (Tuesday) in update #4 is still relevant. Especially in relation to good giving practices during the emergency. Just to recap: pace yourselves, communicate with grantees and fellow funders, simplify the grantmaking process to bare bones, give flexible funds, give above and beyond, and do not cannibalizing existing grants. Rely on trusted sources of information – JFN, your local federation, major Jewish organization, and other funders that do extensive due diligence and needs assessment. Be fast but patient, decisive but flexible, and kind to yourself and others – except, of course, to our inhuman enemies. Distrust those that use the crisis to foster extraneous or partisan goals, and suspend all political grudges for the duration – believe me, they’ll still be there when this is over.

A few NEW needs and comments in addition to what I shared yesterday.

  • While no hostilities have started in the north, there’s increased fear of a second front. So far, Hezbollah doesn’t seem interested in a major escalation, but signals are mixed. This means that needs for preparedness are growing in the north of the country. Several border communities have been evacuated, and the evacuees need support of different types. The same organizations we recommended in the past are serving those needs, but specific ones will start emerging. Local hospitals and healthcare facilities may need to be beefed up. While the government has evacuated and housed 15,000 people from the southern border communities, thousands more have self-evacuated. Others were instructed by the government to evacuate, but haven’t been given accommodation. This is problematic because many inhabitants of Sderot, Ofakim, and other border towns are not affluent and can’t pay hotel bills and the like. Nonprofits are getting organized to help, and we’ll be able to tell you how to direct support in the days to come.
  • Connected to that, housing is going to be a major issue going forward. Since many communities were physically destroyed, the housing problem will persist for some time. JAFI is stepping up on this issue, but soon we’ll know more about specific initiatives to address this need.
  • I mentioned yesterday that educational needs are growing, since schools are closed and returning to COVID routines. The good news is that many hi-tech companies (namely Apple) are donating hardware, but more needs are emerging and will become clear in the days ahead. We need to bear in mind that many evacuees left only with the clothes on their backs, and their computers or phones were either destroyed, stolen, or just left there. Also, in any evacuation situation, idleness for children is a big issue, both physically and mentally challenging. Youth movements (for example Dror Israel) are tackling that issue.
  • There are several campaigns by specific local cities and kibbutzim that were destroyed. Those are, by and large, legitimate and important. The issue is that Americans need a fiscal sponsor and a 501c3 equivalent to transfer funds to them. We’re happy to help funnel contributions and/or provide guidance on how to do it.
  • There continues to be confusion in terms of needs for IDF equipment. This doesn’t mean that IDF is in disarray but that a massive mobilization generates messiness. While the IDF insists that “it has all it needs,” anecdotal evidence seems show to an over-abundance of some items and shortages of others. The IDF logistics directorate is now compiling reports from the public regarding shortages and will clarify those needs. In the meantime, there are organizations (including LATET, FIDF, the Lone Soldier Association, amongst others) that provide support to soldiers and reservists. There are also grassroots efforts to equip reservists that we, and fellow funders, can help you navigate.
  • Many in both Israel and the US seek to volunteer. Several platforms exist to that effect and we’re trying to ascertain the best way to centralize them (and the best way for funders to support them).
  • The battle for hearts and minds continues, on top of what I wrote yesterday, I’d add that while many of us are focusing on Twitter and Facebook, there is huge amount of traffic on Instagram, Whatsapp, Tiktok, and Telegram. We encourage you to check what your grantees are doing on those platforms. It can be distressing how quickly major stories of tragedy, like the 40 murdered babies found in Kfar Aza, are questioned and shrugged off as propaganda. Comparisons to Holocaust denial are impossible to ignore. Work will have to be done to ensure that the story of this attack is chronicled by history.
  • This may be a minor problem compared to the unimaginable human suffering that we’re seeing, but some are worried about the wellbeing of pets and animals. For example, animal welfare activists rescued 200 dogs and are providing food and veterinary services. Those interested in those activities can contact us for details.

We keep updating our list of vetted organizations and needs, so continue to visit for new resourcesPlease note that not ALL vetted needs are on the webpage. Our staff has a more extensive list that can be shared with people upon request. To facilitate navigation, we’ve separated the list into focus areas. Our dedicated email address is [email protected]. Naturally, a webpage or a list doesn’t tell the whole story, so JFN members are invited to call us and ask for personalized advice. Our staff is fielding calls 24/7.  

Stay strong and hopeful, take care of yourself and each other.

Am Yisrael Chai