US Christians help northern residents

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been using money in its emergency fund to provide assistance.

eckstein  (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Jews are not alone in their efforts to help the embattled residents of the North, as the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has been using the money in its emergency fund to provide assistance. The fellowship's new Israel security campaign is raising money for people in range of Hizbullah rockets who need supplies, everything from televisions and tables to baby food and diapers. "Jews have a way to express their solidarity with Israel, and Christians don't have those channels," IFCJ founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein said. "This is a tangible, meaningful and non-missionary way for them to demonstrate their solidarity with Israel." The response from Christians in the US, especially from evangelicals, has been instrumental in getting supplies to the North as quickly as possible. By Wednesday afternoon, IFCJ had provided money for more than 15 towns, funding a wide variety of requests. Karmiel requested flak jackets and helmets, Mevo'ot Hahermon asked for furniture, fans and radios for its bomb shelters, and Nahariya and Acre wanted aid for needy families. "The needs were very basic because with no warning, they suddenly had to spend an unknown amount of time in the shelters," Eckstein said. "Whatever mayors and officials request, they get it immediately. They know it's coming from Americans, and especially from non-Jews who want to help Israel. I think that gives it more meaning." Kiryat Shmona Mayor Haim Barbivai said his town already had a close relationship with the IFCJ. "[Eckstein] said, whatever you need, I will give you," Barbivai said. "He gives whatever you need as soon as you need it, and the minute there is a problem he is there to help." Barbivai said IFCJ's help had been vital in keeping day-to-day life in the North manageable, particularly in his city. Kiryat Shmona asked IFCJ to fund hot meals and other basic supplies for people in shelters. "If not for them, people here would be a lot worse off," Barbivai said. "What they do is so important, it's not like what any other organization does." ICFJ has also given money to Arab communities. Eckstein credits long-standing relationships with the towns - going back 20 years - for his organization's quick response to the situation. "I think everyone jumped to help, to see what they can do as fast as possible," he said. "The reason we were able to help so fast is because we were in the unique position of already working with all the cities, and were able to help within 24 hours."