Wiesenthal Center hands out aid to front-line areas

The visit shows that the "brothers and sisters in America's Jewish community are behind Israel."

haifa firemen 298.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
haifa firemen 298.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
American Jews are putting their money where their mouths are. Representatives from the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center have arrived to distribute $600,000 to front-line communities in the North and to Sderot. The organization received $250,000 in on-line donations, and the center's board of trustees raised the rest. A group including Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center's dean and founder, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, its associate dean, Rabbi Mayer May, its executive director, LA City Councilman Jack Weiss and Dr. Edwin Zalis, a resident of Jerusalem and LA, have been touring rocket attack sites and handing out checks. Hier told The Jerusalem Post the visit was designed to demonstrate that the "brothers and sisters in America's Jewish community are behind Israel." Hier said the money was going to children, senior citizens, hospitals and schools affected by the violence. "We're doing something about it." On Tuesday, the delegation viewed Katyusha damage in Safed, spoke to community members, and delivered a check to the Dekel nonprofit organization, which coordinates activities for 700 elderly people. Hier and his team also made a donation to the local community center's day care program and wrote a $36,000 check to Safed's Ziv Hospital to repair damage from a July 17 Katyusha rocket attack. Hier said that rather than deciding beforehand where the money would go, the Wiesenthal representatives were distributing funds to organizations based on what they saw and heard in the field. The visitors had a bonus gift to offer, courtesy of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: T-shirts. He spoke at a pro-Israel rally in Los Angeles Sunday, noting his numerous trips to the Jewish state over the years. "I started in the Seventies as a bodybuilding champion. I went back in the Eighties as the Terminator. I went back in the Nineties to open my Planet Hollywood restaurant. And Israel was the first country that I visited after I became governor of the great state of California," he said. Schwarzenegger donated 200 shirts to soldiers and policemen, each with a picture of him. Some showed him as a bodybuilder, some as the Terminator, and some as governor. The Wiesenthal Center delegates met with Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal in his city on Monday and handed him a check for $25,000 to help traumatized children. They also made a donation to Sderot's Hesder Yeshiva. Many of the school's students have been called up for reserve duty. The Wiesenthal Center donated $2,500 for library books in the Galilee village of Mughar, in memory of Doa Abbas, 16, who was killed when a rocket scored a direct hit on her home on July 25. On Tuesday evening, the team visited a Kiryat Shmona bomb shelter where many children are living. The group made a donation to the Bizur nonprofit association, which helps provide food and other supplies to those living in the shelters. Tuesday night, Hier and his team were to tour the northern border, and on Wednesday they are scheduled to visit Haifa and to meet with officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry.