Last week marked our first visit to Israel since the onset of the war, a mission that held the purpose of connecting with various organizations and grantees that were supported by CJP’s Israel Emergency Fund. The objective was clear: to assess and discuss both current and future needs in the aftermath of the war.
Anticipating the gravity of the situation, we embarked on this mission mentally prepared. However, what unfolded was a profoundly emotional experience. Our brief yet intense days in Israel not only revealed the extensive challenges and needs but also showcased the inspiring resilience of those we encountered. Amidst the hardships, there was a palpable sense of solidarity, a collective determination to support each other, and an unwavering commitment to overcoming adversity and embracing life.
Our itinerary included meetings with prominent organizations dedicated to addressing the repercussions of the war across the country. Notably, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) stood out, entrusted with the lion’s share of our funding. Their remarkable work in mental health and trauma support, economic relief, and rebuilding efforts in the South left a lasting impression. Equally impactful was our engagement with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), actively supporting victims of terror, small businesses, and planning assistance for communities in the Gaza envelope region.
We also connected with organizations mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers, both local and international, to respond to real-time needs. Brothers and Sisters for Israel (Achim L’Neshek) emerged as a force, aiding displaced families, and collaborating with local municipalities in various activities. HaShomer HaChadash, dedicated to supporting farmers throughout the country, showcased the power of community-driven initiatives.
One of the most poignant visits took us to the site of the Nova festival massacre, followed by a guided tour of Kibbutz Re’im. Witnessing the aftermath and hearing firsthand accounts of the victims’ stories was heart-wrenching. Yet, amid the pain, we joined the Re’im community, temporarily relocated with the help of CJP to Tel Aviv. Their commitment to staying together, healing, and rebuilding was evident through shared facilities, schools, and mental health support.
Encounters with smaller organizations, such as Hagal Sheli and Kfar Izun, emphasized the critical role they play in the trauma and mental health space. These organizations utilize unique approaches, such as surfing and peer activities or in-residence therapies, to facilitate healing.
Our journey concluded in Haifa, where we met with impactful partners like Maoz, Spark IL, and Koret, actively engaged in creating employment opportunities and supporting businesses for displaced individuals. The time spent with our Haifa colleagues and volunteers was particularly meaningful—a collective moment of solace and support during challenging times.
Returning with a deeper understanding of the needs and challenges, we are resolute in leveraging the support and generosity of our Boston community. Proud of the work accomplished and the organizations and people we have supported, we have reignited our sense of mission. The solidarity, seriousness, and dedication exhibited by professionals and volunteers in Israel are truly commendable. From local communities and NGOs to municipalities and the business sector, there is a clear willingness to collaborate and unite in the effort to heal and rebuild the country. In this fight, philanthropy plays a crucial role, and we are determined to contribute to Israel’s journey toward recovery and strength.
Noam Bentov is the associate vice president for Israel and global Jewry at CJP. Prior to CJP, Noam was executive director at Johns Hopkins Hillel. He is a native of Hertzliya, Israel.
Ariel Libhaber is the senior director of global partnerships at CJP, overseeing partnerships with Haifa, Israel; Dnipro, Ukraine; and grant-making in the shared society, peoplehood and leadership spaces. Ariel is part of CJP’s emergency response team, providing expertise in international relief and collaborating with our global partners to address needs for vulnerable populations and victims of war.