A former Israeli living in New York, Rachel Alkalay was disheartened by the wave of terrorism that struck her homeland last spring. "I wanted to do something about it," she said. So she did something on-line.
First, Alkalay founded shevetnewyork.com, a Web site that offered U.S.-Israeli forums on the Internet and links with other pro-Israel Web sites. Through her circle of "like-minded people," area young professionals, shevetnewyork.com quickly grew.
Last week it reached out to all Americans.
Shevetvoice.com, an "on-line community," began operations on the Internet, with a capacity crowd of 120 supporters, braving the late week snowstorm, attending its Chanukah launch party on the Upper East Side.
"We want to create a line of communication between Americans and Israelis," said Alkalay, an attorney in her "early 30s." A Web site "is the easiest way today to communicate with many, many people."
Shevetvoice.com, privately funded, features videos, letters and testimony about conditions in Israel, suggestions for aiding the Jewish state and names of Israeli businesses that could use support from American customers.
Shevetnewyork.com, Alkalay said, publicized a struggling Jerusalem florist earlier this year. A few months later, he thanked her. "I can sleep again," the florist told Alkalay. "I have so much business from the Americans."
"We are filling a gap," Alkalay said, providing an interactive opportunity for young Israelis and their U.S. colleagues to meet on-line. "Instead of being a newspaper where we talk and the people listen, the focus is on your voice": the international participants.
The Web site’s name, she said, reflects its U.S.-Israeli character. "One of the words," shevet, which means tribe, "is in Hebrew, one is in English."
Shevetvoice.com will serve as a proactive advocate for Israel. "We will be successful if we manage to make some sort of a change in any of the projects that we publish," Alkalay said: "writing more letters, donating more money, attending more rallies. We want to make a big change in the public opinion."