'It's critical Israelis know they are not alone,' UJC delegate says

The 50-strong mission has a rigorous schedule of meetings, lectures and visits.

solidarity mission 88 (photo credit: )
solidarity mission 88
(photo credit: )
A United Jewish Communities (UJC) delegation arrived Tuesday morning on a three-day solidarity mission aimed at learning more about the current situation in order to better inform communities, Jewish and non-Jewish, back home. "It is so critically important that we reach out to the non-Jewish community when we return," said Mark Freedman, the executive director of the Jewish Federation in San Antonio. "It is different from other wars Israel has fought." The 50-strong mission has a rigorous schedule of meetings, lectures and visits in Tel Aviv and the North. Almost a quarter of the delegates come from the Chicago area, where the federation had planned to come to Israel three weeks ago. They notified the UJC, which also had a solidarity mission in the works and the groups decided to coordinate the trips together. The delegation consists of different leaders in the Jewish community and all have traveled to Israel several times before, said Harvey Barnett, the incoming chairman of the board for Chicago's Jewish Federation. People have thanked members of the group for coming, Barnett said. "It's embarrassing," he added. "American Jewry is very worried by this situation and they are going to respond," said Barnett. "And the quickest way to respond is by writing a check as well as coming to Israel." The Israel Emergency Campaign (IEC), the community-wide fundraising effort in the United States, has already raised around $120 million to provide relief and support for residents of the North. The Chicago community alone has raised $24m. in the past two weeks. The funds will be distributed by the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) to various social service efforts. Much of the money will go toward helping those staying in bomb shelters to feel more comfortable, like furnishing them with air conditioners and giving toys to children. The money will also be used to fund the relocation of new olim and aid trauma centers. "It's critical that Israelis know they aren't alone, they aren't isolated and there's a significant portion of the Jewish Diaspora that cares about what happens here," said Freedman. Or as Barnett put it: "When you're mother isn't doing well, you run to see her wherever she is at."