Almost immediately upon learning of the horrific massacre on Simchat Torah, the OU in Israel and America have been working around the clock to organize efforts to help our brothers and sisters in Israel. In the first two weeks of the war, the OU raised more than $2 million in order to provide much-needed aid to individuals and families severely impacted by the war. While our efforts have been broad across our many departments, we have been especially focused on the following four areas:
1. OU Israel Staff
Many OU Israel staff members live and work in Sderot and surrounding areas. Well over 150 members of our staff, including employees of JLIC and NCSY, were called up to active military duty. We have been working with the affected families to address their immediate material and emotional needs.
OU Israel has been providing vouchers for evacuated families for necessities such as food, clothing, baby items and toiletries; offering crisis support including a Hebrew-language hotline for those suffering from trauma and anxiety; and delivering meals and other essentials to soldiers. A few weeks into the war, the Karasick Synagogue Initiatives department led a mission to Israel to offer support to our Israeli brothers and sisters. Comprised of rabbis and lay leaders from across the US, the group visited with bereaved families, families of hostages, and members of displaced communities to share a message of achdut. In November, the OU urged thousands of its constituents to show solidary with Israel and join the Rally for Israel in Washington, DC.
The OU and our many programmatic departments have convened numerous in-person and virtual gatherings to hear words of chizuk and consolation and to recite Tehillim. Thousands have joined NCSY’s Adopt a Soldier and Shemirah Project, campaigns to do mitzvot, pray or learn Torah as a zechut for soldiers and for Am Yisrael.
OU Advocacy has been in constant contact with national leaders to galvanize support for Israel and combat the surge of antisemitism in the U.S. Since the outbreak of the war, OUA leaders have met with President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray. In these meetings, we have reinforced the Administration’s support for Israel and discussed specific steps the government must take to protect our community and thwart antisemites. OU Advocacy is working with Congress to have an emergency allocation of $200 million for federal security grants for shuls and schools. OUA also worked with the House Committee on Education to hold a hearing on the rise of college campus antisemitism at which Rabbi Moshe Hauer, OU executive vice president, testified.
Making security a priority, OU Teach Coalition has launched Project Protect, a security-focused initiative that builds on a decade of experience securing and implementing government funding to protect our Jewish institutions. This year, alongside OU advocacy, Project Protect has pledged to advocate for $1 billion nationally in security funding for at-risk nonprofits, ensuring our yeshivas and day schools can continue to educate our children in a safe, secure environment, and allow Jewish life in America to continue
Our brothers and sisters in Israel need your urgent support. Even when the war is done, there will be much to repair. Donate today at ou.org/israelcrisis.