April 11, 2024

Wellness and More

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

Ok. First the important stuff. BeWell, the Jewish Federation of North America’s youth mental health and wellness initiative, is partnering with Stanford University and local communities like Greater MetroWest, to conduct a study of American Jewish teens in 7th-12th grade and mental wellness. This research study is designed to produce the most comprehensive portrait to date of the state of mental health and well-being among Jewish teenagers. Ultimately, it’ll help us better understand, anticipate, and meet the needs of our Jewish teens. So please spread the word to the teens in your life, your colleagues who work directly with teens, parents of teens you’re in touch with, and other leaders in the Jewish community.  The survey opened on April 15th and can be found here. It’s short, mobile-friendly, and anonymous, so it’s easy and quick for teens to complete.

Next up: something really awesome in time for Pesach (Passover). Getting ready for seder and need some extra ideas, resources, inspiration? Gotcha covered. Click on this link and see what’s happening around the community and a terrific list of resources, hagadot, and ideas.

National stuff: Congress has reconvened after the spring recess, and things are heating up. We’re closely following the behind-the-scenes discussions regarding the supplemental funding for Israel, Ukraine, and emergency funding for the nonprofit security grant program. We anticipate that the House will introduce a bill early next week, and we’re actively leveraging our relationships and contacts to garner support. It’s crucial that we convey to Congress the importance of ensuring the safety of our communities and providing support to Israel during this critical time. Please join us in urging Congress to prioritize the safety of our communities and to stand in solidarity with Israel.

Also nationally: this week, Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK), along with Representatives Kathy Manning (D-NC), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Randy Weber (R-TX) announced the introduction of the bipartisan, bicameral, Countering Antisemitism Act. Jewish federations support this bill, it contains important provisions that will support our Jewish communities across the country as we work together daily and tirelessly to combat the tsunami of antisemitism we face. So we’re proud to support its passage. And one final congressional piece: with Fiscal Year 2024 behind us, the U.S. Congress is calling upon Cabinet and Administration officials from various agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, United States Agency for International Development, and Department of Defense, to appear before several committees and defend their current budgetary requirements. As staunch advocates of funding for Israel, international and humanitarian aid, safety and security initiatives, and access to kosher food, among other priorities, our Jewish Federation is actively monitoring these deliberations for opportunities to engage. We’re committed to staying vigilant and will keep you fully informed of any developments or next steps arising from these discussions.

Israel. Ready? Earlier today, the IDF launched a targeted operation against Hamas in the central Gaza Strip, on the outskirts of Nuseirat, an area where ground troops have not yet operated during the ground war. The air force carried out strikes against dozens of Hamas targets, including tunnel infrastructure, following intelligence indicating “the presence of terror infrastructure and many terrorists in the area.”

Yesterday, three of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s adult sons were killed in an air strike in Gaza. All three were senior Hamas operatives. Qatar-based Haniyeh said that the attack would not deter Hamas.


Israel is still waiting for an official Hamas response to a proposal for a hostage deal and truce put forward by the US, together with Egyptian and Qatari mediators. Israel had previously accepted the agreement. US President Joe Biden said “It’s now up to Hamas. They need to move on the proposal that has been made so we get these hostages home where they belong.” Meanwhile, Israel chief negotiator, Mossad chief David Barnea said that freeing all 133 captives and bodies in a single truce agreement would be impossible, and at best 40 people could be freed at this stage.

Humanitarian Aid

Israel has reiterated its promise to “flood Gaza with aid.” It will open a new land crossing into the Strip designed mainly to facilitate deliveries from overseas and from neighboring Jordan. Israel has already been facilitating a large number of aid trucks entering Gaza. Over the past week, the number of trucks entering the Strip has broken records on an almost daily basis, with a new average of over 400 trucks bringing in supplies each day (and over 500 today). Meanwhile, the US is working to have a maritime corridor up and running in the coming weeks, which will be able to bring in additional assistance. The new route will allow over 500 trucks daily of commercial and humanitarian help. Read: The American Pier in Gaza: An Opening to US-Israeli Cooperation in Gaza and also Beyond Humanitarian Aid: A Plan for Gazan Civilians Is a Strategic Necessity for Israel


In the north, Hezbollah continues to fire at Israeli targets, triggering significant Israeli retaliations. The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains negligible on most days, due to Hamas’ significantly diminished capabilities. In the Red Sea, the US, the UK, and Israel continue to defend against attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The US military also continues to strike at pro-Iranian targets in Syria and Iraq. Yesterday, the US military said that its forces had successfully engaged three unmanned aerial vehicles launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen over the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. There were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships. US forces also destroyed eight UAVs in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen later on April 10.

International Response

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a call with Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant yesterday, made clear that the United States will stand with Israel against any threats by Iran. According to media reports, the US will assist in defending Israel if it is attacked by Iran or by one of its proxies. Earlier, President Joe Biden pledged that US support for Israeli security is “ironclad.” Media reports have indicated that if an Iranian attack involves missiles and drones, American forces could help in downing them and that the US hasn’t ruled out launching a joint response with Israel if the Jewish state is attacked – directly or indirectly – by Iran. In addition, Minister Gallant and Foreign Minister Israel Katz both warned that if Iran launched an attack from its soil then Israel would strike back inside Iran.

Interesting stuff

  • The recent elimination of a senior Iranian general in Syria is said to challenge Iran’s ability to stay out of the war. Read more here.
  • Wall Street Journal op-ed on why Israel’s defeat of Hamas is vital to ensuring the future of Western democracy.
  • What Would “Total Victory” Mean in Gaza?