(photo credit: )
Turning on the radio to hear the hourly headlines or checking out the news Web sites for the latest, the first question that comes into our minds is - "now what?" What new outrages have our enemies perpetrated "up north" and "down south?" We're worried about friends, relatives and acquaintances - and about ourselves, too, because every day, it seems like attacks on the "north" and "south" are encroaching ever closer into the "center," G-d forbid.
I write these stories a few days before you read them, so hopefully things will have calmed down somewhat by the time this is printed. Or maybe not; after all, we're days away from Tisha Be'Av, the apex of the Three Weeks period of mourning commemorating Jewish collective suffering, harking back to the expulsion of Jews from Spain, the Crusades, the destruction of both Temples and even the divinely-ordered 40 years of desert wandering imposed on the Jews who left Egypt (http://ohr.edu/yhiy/article.php/1088). Considering the fatalistic view of suffering and anti-Semitism many of us Jews have, it's not surprising that many of us feel as if each day during this period brings new and worse news.
Once the Hizbullah and Hamas flareups end, our soldiers are returned safe and sound and our borders - and airspace - are safe, we'll all breathe a sigh of relief, and the media will find other, hopefully less terrifying headlines to trumpet. But that doesn't mean the war will have ended, because all of us are going to be paying for the damage done to the country's economy and morale for months to come, if not longer.
Unlike other recent controversial political projects, helping residents of the Negev and Galilee is something all of us, right and left, can get behind. And these people are going to need a lot of help; many residents of the north depend on summer tourism to see them through during the rest of the year, and this year's "high season" is going to go down as one of the lowest-grossing for Galilee and Golan tourism in many years.
Many of the rest of the north's residents - as well as those who live in the western Negev, who are experiencing their own, lengthy mini-war - depend on agriculture, and one result of the barrages of rockets this summer, especially up north, has been the burning of many orchards and fields. And while markets catering to city-dwellers will be able to find alternative sources for the affected agricultural products, farmers won't be able to make up lost income so easily.
So, after we get an answer to that first question, the one about our personal safety and security, our minds are able to process a second question - "what can we do to help?" No doubt many options will emerge, many of them requiring resources - physical and financial - that many of us will have difficulty providing. Heavy construction work to rebuild what the Katyushas have destroyed is out of the question for many of us, and there's only so much we can afford to give for the hundreds of needs that are going to emerge once the smoke clears and folks can take up normal lives outside bomb shelters. We'll do what we can, but of course we'll believe deep down that it's not enough. And it won't be.
But, thanks to the power of the Internet and its attendant global village, you can leverage the power of your PC to make a real difference in the lives of those who hurt the most. At GiveMeaning (http://www.givemeaning.com), you get all the tools you need to set up projects that will help those who need it most - and find money to pay for that help as well.
GiveMeaning lets anybody affiliated with a recognized charity set up a "project" - a program with a specific end result, for which money can be raised within 90 days. GiveMeaning furnishes you with a Web page for your project and various publicity tools to get the word out to those you think will donate. Projects can encompass any specific need (active projects include raising money for a playground for inner city kids, funding a hostel for abused women, building a classroom in Ghana and many others) - as long as they have a specific end goal.
All money raised goes to the project (GiveMeaning makes its money from corporate sponsors), but if you don't reach your financial goal within 90 days, GiveMeaning reserves the right to distribute donations to your project elsewhere (or refund it to donors). The rules are designed to ensure that goals are attainable and that organizers are serious about their projects.
Besides providing projects with "viral marketing" tools and Web site/blogs, GiveMeaning also takes care of bookkeeping, and enables donors to send money using credit cards (usually a difficult proposition for ad-hoc projects) - and issues a tax-deductible receipt, recognized by authorities in the US and Canada (where most of your project's donors are likely to live). With GiveMeaning's tools and resources, anybody can get involved in helping out a good cause - and unfortunately, the battles Israel has been forced to wage in recent weeks have left us with all too many good causes that need some help.
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