Six busloads of Jewish Agency Board of Governors members traveled to the North this week to see the results of the assistance given to residents there since the war started in June, and the huge job that remains to be done.
The $320 million raised by the United Jewish Communities for the Israel Emergency Appeal in the US and Canada was spent on projects that included trauma counseling, emergency medical services and temporary housing for those displaced by the Katyusha rocket attacks.
One group visited a public bomb shelter in Acre, where they heard from the mayor's representative, Ohad Segev, and other residents about their experiences during the war, when 110 Katyushas fell on the city.
Segev said Jewish Agency support had enabled the outfitting of 60 public shelters and 700 private shelters with sanitation facilities, air conditioning units and other services. He paid tribute to the "help received from brothers in communities outside of Israel," saying, "it warmed our hearts and helped us a lot."
The board members then heard about the efforts to deal with the psychological impact of the war, especially on children. An Acre community center worker, Ma'or Benzino, talked about how some of the post-war tension was alleviated by organizing cultural activities for the youth.
In addition, Jewish Agency summer camps held further south in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Hod Hasharon "made a lot of difference" for the children, Benzino said.
One example he gave of the impact made by the agency's aid was of a single mother who was a nurse at Nahariya Government Hospital working around the clock.
She had no one to look after her young children and wasn't sure if they were eating properly or going to the bomb shelter when the alarm sounded. The morning after a request was made, despite the summer camps being full, the Jewish Agency sent a taxi to her house to take them to summer camp.
Shmuel Miron also benefitted from the assistance. He told the board members that his business had been in danger of collapse because of the dearth of customers during the war. The Jewish Agency provided a NIS 4,000 grant that helped him survive until business picked up again."