Children attending a Jewish Agency respite camp session for Victims of terror. In 2017, The Jewish Agency provided long-term rehabilitative assistance to 224 victims of terror, respite camping programs to 320 traumatized children, and emergency grants to 14 new victims. (Photo: David Salem/Zoog Productions for The Jewish Agency for Israel)
Amid the recent wave of rocket fire at Israel from Gaza as well as the new phenomenon of kite arson attacks, The Jewish Agency is playing its crucial and longtime role of providing immediate and long-term financial and emotional assistance to Israeli families affected by terrorism.
(On October 7th), the horrific terror attack that took place at Barkan Industrial Park took the lives of two Israelis, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hajbi, 35. Jewish Agency Chairman, Isaac Herzog said, "We stand with the IDF and security forces as they search for the killer. On behalf of The Jewish Agency Board, I send condolences to the families who lost loved ones, and wish a full recovery to the injured."
While we can't bring back those who were lost, The Fund for the Victims of Terror brings comfort to lives in upheaval. Whenever terror or rocket fire affects families in Israel, The Jewish Agency stands ready to help the loved ones of those who are injured or killed.
Within 48 hours of an attack, a representative visits victims and provides emergency aid of over $1,000. Additionally, The Jewish Agency provides services and grants of up to $6,300 per family for recuperation efforts such as psychological care, job retraining, and more. The Fund for the Victims of Terror works with Israeli government agencies to avoid duplication of services. The goal is for victims to return as closely as possible to normal life. In 2017, The Jewish Agency provided long-term rehabilitative assistance to 224 victims of terror, respite camping programs to 320 traumatized children, and emergency grants to 14 new victims.
Approximately 20 respite camp sessions for victims of terror are held annually. The campers enjoy daily activities such as sports and art as well as trips to various tourist attractions, heritage sites, museums, and cultural performances. Ranging in age from 6-16, respite camp participants are open to those who have received a grant from the Fund for the Victims of Terror.
This past summer, 300 children who were recognized as victims of terrorist acts by the Fund for the Victims of Terror—including 200 children from Gaza-vicinity communities and 100 from across Israel—took a break from the chaos surrounding their lives to attend a Jewish Agency-run respite camp that eased their nerves and lifted their spirits.
Yael Raz, director of the camps’ Department of Special Tasks and Emergency Time, says, “The camp is not necessarily a therapeutic camp, but provides the children with tools for coping, and we have also held special training programs for the camp staff to help them assist children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.”
The campers and their parents were grateful for the opportunity to take a break from the missiles and other attacks emanating from Gaza.
Kinneret Falah, a mother of four who lives in Ashkelon, decided with her husband to move to Kiryat Malachi so that the sound of the sirens following rocket fire from Gaza would no longer bother her children, who suffer from the anxieties that accompany the alarms.
Her son Ariel, who participated in The Jewish Agency’s respite camp, says he still hears the sirens despite his family’s move. Kinneret says, “Ariel is still very anxious, but we are making a great effort to make it easier for him and his brother. He is still very afraid and anxious. His school teacher called me to say he chewed three pencils because of the pressure he was feeling, and we were helpless. My husband and I did all we could to make it easier for him in every possible way.”
Tzvia, whose twin children Dvir and Neve Tkaya attended The Jewish Agency’s respite camp, says, “I am at a loss for words to properly thank The Jewish Agency and the Fund for the Victims of Terror for the tremendous investment they made in our family and their deep thoughtfulness, and the warm treatment that the children are receiving at the camp for victims of terror.”
This summer was 16-year-old Neve Tkaya’s fifth year at the camp. The twins have been victims of terror since Operation Cast Lead in 2008. The family has been assisted by the Fund for the Victims of Terror ever since a missile landed near their home, filling the house with shrapnel.
“Our children and the other campers would never have come to the sites that the camp brings them to,” Tzvia says. “Who would have thought, for example, of visiting the Museum of Natural History in Tel Aviv during difficult times at the Gaza border? These families are scared of leaving their homes because of the missiles.”
This story was originally reported by Nathan Roi for The Jewish Agency for Israel.