Federation Launches Israel Emergency Campaign
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COURTNEY BYRNES | CJN
As it has done before in other crises, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland quickly mobilized to launch the Israel Emergency Campaign for assistance to victims of terror and address growing needs following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Announcing the fund through email on Oct. 7 and at an Oct. 9 pro-Israel rally, the Federation’s board of trustees approved running the campaign alongside its ongoing 2024 Campaign for Jewish Needs Oct. 11. In just the first week, the campaign has raised over $26.7 million and received a match opportunity of $15 million from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.
“The Federation has become very good at being able to act immediately and pivot where the needs are the greatest,” Beth Wain Brandon, general campaign chair, told the Cleveland Jewish News Oct. 16. “And a lot of this is because of our community’s generous support of our annual campaign. We have enough money and resources and connections to act very quickly when there’s something going on in the world.”
In the last few years, the Federation has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine with emergency campaigns, but Brandon added what is going on in Israel is “unprecedented” and “We need to respond to this crisis in a big way.”
The Federation’s campaign is part of the collective of federations around the country raising $500 million through the Jewish Federations of North America with 100% of donations going directly to help people in Israel. While there is no goal set for the Cleveland campaign yet, Brandon said “Cleveland is known in the JFNA community for doing even more than our share. We step up in a big way.”
Due to the annual campaign, the Federation already has strong relationships with international partners such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel to provide immediate humanitarian support. These partners and others are working with JFNA, which has set up an allocation process to get money on the ground as soon as possible, she added.
“(JFNA is) also getting requests from all kinds of different organizations that are providing tons of different services,” she said. “This fund will support victims of terror, it’ll assist with evacuations and deliver financial assistance. It’s going to be providing psychological support and aid to the hospitals that are completely overwhelmed, caring for victims who are injured. It will provide temporary housing and address the unprecedented levels of trauma that was caused by this attack.
“And our agencies, our partners on the ground, are already working with elder care and providing emergency support and helping them deal with funerals and that kind of thing. So, it’s a huge approach and many prongs.”
As the war is not expected to be short term, Brandon said the Federation is in constant communication with its partners to continue to address the growing and changing needs that arise.
In support of the campaign, the Mandel Foundation had reached out Oct. 8 to donate and provide a dollar-for-dollar match opportunity of $12 million, which was raised to $15 million Oct. 16 after surpassing the initial amount.
“Every dollar will make a huge difference,” Brandon said. “Israel just needs a ton of support. They need our love, they need to know that they aren’t fighting this war alone, and that the Jewish and general community in the United States is behind them 100%.”
To donate to the Israel Emergency Campaign, visit donate.jewishcleveland.org/Israel.