Federation's relationships in Israel are essential

This week I was on a Partnership2Gether Coast-to-Coast steering committee Zoom call with Meytal Novidomsky from Metullah, our Coast-to-Coast director in Israel. She and Sarah Mali, our director general in Israel, had taken the risk of returning to Metullah for a visit, figuring it was safe because there was to be a funeral. Shortly after they left, there was a rocket siren alert.  

Metullah, like a significant portion of the northern border, has had many direct hits on homes. Meytal showed us a video released by Hezbollah, of a residence that was hit in her neighbourhood, only one block away. The destruction not only affected the home, but it also caused damage to the surrounding properties. On top of this strain, the displaced families are living with tremendous uncertainty, not knowing what the emerging situation in the North will mean and how much longer they will be removed from their homes and communities. Meytal still has not been back at her home long enough to take down her sukkah.  

We talked about how the communities are trying to manage some cohesiveness in the chaos. In addition, there are concerns about people never returning as they settle into new schools and jobs away from home.  

Please join us on Monday (perhaps an early lunch break) for a virtual mifgash; we will have a quick update about the situation our partners in the north are facing, followed by breakout rooms for conversations to connect with our Israeli counterparts. It is a chance to ask questions and they equally want to hear what is going on in the diaspora. When we visited Israel in November, we frequently found that Israelis were worried about us and the antisemitism that we are encounter.  

They did not prepare the emergency plan for Kiryat Shmona with the thought of evacuating the entire town and setting up ongoing services for months on end. So, while we could quickly respond to immediate crisis needs with the Israel Emergency Fund, we are also concerned about mid- and longer-term impacts and resiliency.  

In this article by Sarah Mali, she articulates the guidelines the philanthropic community should adopt, moving from the hero philanthropist role (where we show up to address immediate crisis) to the host model (where we act in partnership, as stewards).  

“At Jewish Federations of Canada-United Israel Appeal, we apply these principles for the intermediate- and long-term recovery of Israel and serve as trusted guardians and stewards to ensure the best use of funds over time in accordance with Canadian communities’ wishes.”  

Having a relationship with those who are most capable of addressing the difficulties and mobilizing support sets the Federation model apart. Sarah also writes a weekly blog, and I can tell you firsthand that she is constantly travelling around the country, interacting with those we fund and others we may consider. She is not only representing Jewish Canada but also engaged with who we financially support, ensuring that we address their needs and challenges, and that philanthropy is a partnership.  

Yisrael Arevim Zeh l’zeh—all the people of Israel care for each other. One person at a time, we are making a difference, and this is thanks to your ongoing support.  

Shabbat Shalom,