In an effort to help war-weary young adults in northern Israel escape the constant rocket attacks by Hezbollah and learn something about their country, Taglit-birthright israel will begin providing free weeklong trips similar to the educational programs offered to diaspora Jewry.
A total of 10,000 young people 18 to 26 from the north will be taken on trips to see the rest of the country in what is being termed “an educational and cultural respite.” The trips, which will cost about $4.5 million and come at the urging of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, will be paid for by private philanthropists, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the government of Israel.
Meanwhile, UJA-Federation of New York has raised $25 million for its Israel Emergency Campaign to help widows and orphans of fallen soldiers and to provide trauma support for children, Holocaust survivors and others traumatized by the war in Lebanon. That money, along with a $10 million grant from its reserve fund, will be part of the $60 million UJA-Federation is raising for the United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization for 155 Jewish federations in North America. A spokesman for the UJC said that because of ever increasing needs the organization now hoped to raise more money than its original goal of $300 million. He said that to date $115 million has been pledged.
The Jewish National Fund said it had received in excess of $3.5 million in donations. The money is being used to buy fire retardant to extinguish tree fires ignited by Hezbollah rockets. In addition, it is being used to provide a summer camp for more than 2,000 children who have fled the north, to buy 70 fire trucks, each of which costs $100,000, and to provide food and games for children in bomb shelters in the north.