November 13, 2023

Before Shabbat

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Dear Federation and Community Leaders,

We’ve spent a lot of time these past few days focused on the allocations for the emergency campaign. Federations have raised over $600 million this past month and it’s not enough. You can click here for the latest allocations report. We’re also getting logistics and resources ready for the huge march for Israel on Tuesday in DC. We’re expecting A LOT of people, a lot of buses, and a lot of ruach (good spirits). If you’ve already registered, hang tight, we’ll get back to you shortly with all the information you need. Registration for the buses is now officially closed, but you can still join us – get the train, or drive down, and be in touch with someone who’s already signed up to join us at the Mall. I promise you, it’ll be the most powerful, meaningful, memorable thing you’ll get to do for Israel right now.

We were outraged and sickened by the attempted firebombing at Federation CJA West Island & Congregation Beth Tikvah in Montreal this week, as well as the shootings at the doors of two Jewish schools in Montreal.  We hope and pray that these perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice. We were also heartbroken to hear of the death of a 69-year-old Jewish man, Paul Kessler, after he was struck in the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Hamas protester in the Thousand Oaks section of L.A.

Also this week, Jewish federations strongly supported Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in his recommendation that Congress allocate $1 billion in long-term emergency funding for the NSGP (nonprofit security grant program), which is more than triple its current annual funding level. We also requested that Congress allocate $200 million in funding for the immediate needs of our communities. For more, click here.

As the ground war continues in Gaza, Israeli troops killed several senior Hamas terrorists overnight, including some who took part in the October 7 massacres. In addition, the IDF raided a major Hamas military quarter situated near the Shifa Hospital, killing 50 Hamas members during fierce combat. Israeli forces also secured and neutralized a wide underground network of tunnels. See video footage here. And watch this video of the discovery of a major weapons depository inside a school.

The IDF reports that 36 soldiers have been killed in the fighting since the ground offensive began. See details of all fallen soldiers here.

Meanwhile, for the first time, IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi and the Israel Security Service (Shin Bet) head Ronan Bar personally went deep into Gaza with IDF troops to conduct a situation assessment on the ground.

Yesterday, a drone attack on a school in Eilat caused damage, but no injuries. Israel says that it struck targets in Syria responsible for the attack. Meanwhile, Israel’s long-range Arrow defense system intercepted a surface-to-surface missile outside the earth’s atmosphere, over the Red Sea. The missile was launched, presumably from Yemen, towards Eilat. This was the first time ever that Israel’s most advanced air defense system, the Arrow 3, completed a successful intercept (limited previous uses involved the Arrow 2).

The IDF continues to facilitate humanitarian corridors to allow Palestinians in the north of Gaza to escape to the south. Yesterday, some 50,000 people used the safe passage in the seven-hour period that it was open.

Following mounting international pressure, Israel has agreed to formalize and broaden the pauses in fighting, in coordination with the U.S. Government and others. The “tactical, localized” pauses that Israel agreed to implement each day will build on the humanitarian corridor that it began operating on Sunday to allow Gazans to evacuate from northern to southern Gaza. The new four-hour pauses will take place in a different northern Gaza neighborhood each day, with residents notified three hours ahead of time, in order to prevent Hamas from exploiting the gesture for military purposes. Watch this video about IDF humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

Meanwhile reports suggest that two hostages with medical conditions may soon be released. They are Hanna Katzir, 77, and Yagil Yaakov, 12, both of Kibbutz Nir Oz. Negotiations for the release of other hostages continue. As I told various trolls on social media earlier today, two hostages does not a peace deal make. Don’t confuse the number “2” with the number “239.”

Read this first-hand account of the IDF’s hunt for tunnels, and how Hamas hides their locations.

The Knesset has approved a wartime compensation package to help businesses continue operating. The aid package includes grants to businesses that have suffered indirect damages due to the war, a salary reimbursement program, and relief measures for employees put on unpaid leave. The cost of the package is estimated at $3.9 billion.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (18 years into his 5 year term …) has said he would be willing to take control of the Gaza Strip after Hamas falls, if Israel accepts the goal of a two-state solution.

Also: our colleagues in our Jewish Federations of North America released the first poll of the Jewish community since October 7. The poll found that 70% of Jewish respondents feel less safe than they did a few months before. None said they feel safer. Three-quarters of Jews were concerned that their communities would face security problems due to the war. Also, they found that Jews were twice as likely to say they worry about their personal safety compared to the general public. Among Jews, those who wore distinctive Jewish items were twice as likely to say they felt worried about their safety “all the time” relative to those who don’t. Support for military aid to Israel is widely popular, with 59% of the general population supporting it, and 87% of U.S. Jews agreeing. It’s really interesting and worth a read. For more information, please see here.

I’m speaking this weekend with Greater MetroWest Hillel students about what’s happening in Israel and how to respond to the haters, massacre-deniers, and trolls that we see raising their evil heads. I also want to thank all those who came out this week to rally, march, support, and show their love for Israel and our community. We see you, and we’re grateful.

Shabbat Shalom, may it be a peaceful weekend, and may the hostages come home swiftly,

Chief Executive Officer