Thursday, January 08, 2009

Four Days of Action For Israel

Dear Members,
The last week has descended into a nightmare for those living near the border with Gaza, not to mention the innocent civilians in Gaza who are suffering because of the selfishness of their extremist leaders.  What ever your feelings on the political angle of this conflict, you cannot help but despair at the cost to innocent lives.  All we can say is that we pray for an end to the violence as soon as possible, and that both Israel and Hamas will agree to the terms of the ceasefire proposed by Egypt and France.
Please find attached two pieces wrriten by Rabbi Mark Goldsmith and Rabbi Alexandra Wright, respectively.  Please also find attached the recent newsletter from the Israel Religious Action Centre.  They have included a prayer for the State of Israel and for Soldiers.
Please read on to hear about two appeals which ProZion are supporting.  At the bottom of this email you will find more information about what you can do to show your support for Israel.
1. Keren B'Kavod: Helping those in need
Whilst we all, no doubt, follow with care the analysis and news in the media, let us not forget about the people in S'derot, Ashdod, Ashqelon, and other nearby towns who are being bombarded daily by rocket fire.  We urge you to read this appeal from IRAC, whose Keren B'Kavod project is doing inspiring work to ease these troubled times for the local residents.  Please also find attached an account written by Sarah Lewis, an ola from the UK, who is living and working for IRAC in Sderot. 
Keren B'Kavod, the humanitarian aid project of the Israel Religious Action Center, launched a new initiative in light of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in S'derot and in other towns of the western Negev. Beginning with the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Keren B'Kavod made a reputation for itself as early-responders, helping those most in need. Using a large network of Reform volunteers and donations, Keren B'Kavod went door-to-door in the North, bringing food and medication to the elderly, the poor, and those with special needs who had been left behind. Keren B'Kavod also provided assistance to Gaza-border towns, specifically to families with special needs children in S'derot. Unfortunately, recent events have escalated the threat of violence in the western Negev causing Keren B'Kavod to call on the public for help, in order to increase their assistance to the region.

Since the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas ended, there has been a non-stop rocket bombardment on cities and towns in the western Negev. Israel began taking military action yesterday in order to protect her citizens. The "Color Red" alert system, has been in effect across the region. For the coming days, residents (depending on how close they live to Gaza) are supposed to stay within 15-45 seconds of a fortified room or shelter. These families need Keren B'Kavod's help more than ever before.

Families, especially those with special needs children, will be unable to do simple daily chores like going to the supermarket or the pharmacy to pick up food/water and medicines. Also, moving their children to shelters quickly can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. In coordination with the Israeli Reform Movement, Keren B'Kavod is asking members of Reform congregations to open their homes and their hearts to these residents by providing S'derot families with shelter and relief.

Keren B'Kavod is also requesting donations in order to help buy much-needed food, clothing, and toys for these families of S'derot, who are often stuck in shelters for hours on end. Keren B'Kavod has expanded its campaign to all towns affected by the rockets; they hope to provide families with rooms in Reform Movement hostels like Mishkenot Ruth, Kibbutz Yahel for the upcoming days, so these families do not have to live in constant fear of the falling rockets.
To donate to Keren B'Kavod and IRAC, please go to:
2. Care Packages to IDF soldiers
Please also find attached a flyer about giving support to provide care packages for the IDF soldiers on the frontline.  This is being coordinated by the Zionist Federation.
3. Four Days of Action
Recent events in Gaza are of great concern to all of us. This is not a war on the people of Gaza , but an attempt to prevent Hamas from continuing to fire missiles at southern Israel , using the people of Gaza as human shields to promote their twisted political ends.   Since the  Hezbollah war in the summer of 2006, much has been done in the media and political worlds to ensure that the plight of Sderot, Ashkelon and other communities in the south of Israel is understood.  On the whole, there has been more balanced reporting of the issues in the last two weeks.   However, there is a need for more to be done, and you can help in several ways.
Between now and Sunday, there will be Four Days of Action For Israel .
For tomorrow, Thursday, I am asking you to contact your MP.   They need to hear first hand from one of their constituents about the situation in Gaza . You can either write or go and see them at one of their surgeries. If you don't know who your local MP is, please visit <> . All you need to do is enter your postcode. 
On Friday please contact the media in one or more of its forms.   For example, a letter to your local newspaper, a comment on a 'blogsite' or an e-mail to a media outlet about something you've seen or heard.   
Shabbat will be a day for prayer and reflection on the present situation.   The major synagogal bodies will be asking their rabbis to incorporate this into their services.
And on SUNDAY, there will be major rallies in London and Manchester – opportunities for you to come and show your support for what Israel is facing.   Our message is that we are in favour of peace – not terror.   Let's make sure that we get that message across.
London – Trafalgar Square – 10.45 prompt for 11.00
Manchester – Albert Square – 10.45 prompt for 11.00
I appreciate that we all have busy lives with competing demands on our time, but, at this moment, Israel needs and deserves our support.
Yours sincerely,
Henry Grunwald QC
President, Board of Deputies of British Jews
Chairman, Jewish Leadership Council

May there soon be peace,
Charlie, Daniel and all at ProZion