Eric Fingerhut, CEO and president of the Jewish Federations, was in Israel on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked, killing more than 1,400 Israelis, wounding thousands and kidnapping an estimated 150 others. “Their cruelty was shocking, and the images of their crimes against Jews—the worst since the Holocaust—will stay with me forever,” he stated.
The Jewish nonprofit executive added that it’s been a privilege to see Israelis “pull together as one nation like never before, volunteering their time, organizing relief efforts and getting the truth of what happened to the world.”
He pledged that Jewish Federations will support Israel financially and will back Israel “in the weeks and months ahead.”
Other Jewish and non-Jewish groups have been raising and starting to distribute money and other sorts of donations. Federations announced “a historic $500 million campaign to support the Jewish state and her people,” in partnership with the Union of Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Hillel International, the JCC Association of North America and National Council of Jewish Women.
On Oct. 17, Federations announced that it had already raised $388 million. It has also allocated $10 million to 20 organizations that provide emergency relief and support in Israel.
The Jewish Agency for Israel is one of those 20 organizations. It announced a $2.6 million emergency fund “to assist Gaza border communities in rehabilitation following the devastation incurred during the war,” with grants transferred beginning on Oct. 15.
Those monies are separate from the agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror, which supports those who were injured or lost property in terrorist attacks. That entity received a $5 million gift—its largest ever—last week from the Breakthrough Foundations.
Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds and its affiliates around the world secured more than $200 million in “bond sales and commitments” from investors since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.
This, they noted, includes “$150 million in bond purchases from U.S. states, local municipal governments and an institution, sending an emphatic message of hope to the people of Israel and the global Jewish community.”
UJA-Federation of New York announced on Monday that it has given $22 million in grants to more than 60 Israeli nonprofits so far. “Since Hamas’s barbaric attack on Oct. 7, UJA has been working tirelessly to help provide urgent, life-saving support in Israel,” said Eric Goldstein, CEO of the UJA.
On Oct. 12, the Consulate General of Israel in New York announced that it had helped coordinate a $1 million UJA donation to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. “A rocket attack may have damaged Barzilai, but it did not dampen the spirit of the people who provide treatment to all who need it,” Goldstein stated.
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces plans to replace its gala with an Oct. 17 “solidarity gathering” at Chelsea Piers in New York City. Aviv Kochavi, a former IDF chief of staff; Israeli actor Itzik Cohen (Captain Ayub in the Netflix hit Israeli series “Fauda”); and Israeli actress and singer Noa Kirel are expected to participate in the fundraising event.
Synagogues are raising money as well, including Park Avenue Synagogue, a Conservative congregation in Manhattan, where according to news reports, the rabbi made an exception in order “to save lives,” and asked the congregation to use their phones and donate on Shabbat. Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove reportedly set a goal of $18 million.
An anonymous $1 million gift matched donations to the Jewish National Fund (JNF-USA), which is trying to raise $10 million.
“This campaign is about helping people in need, but it’s also about ensuring that Hamas does not win, not only by murdering us but by killing our spirit,” said Russell Robinson, CEO of JNF.
American Friends of Magen David Adom chartered a plane to fly 17 new ambulances to Tel Aviv, a spokesman told The New York Times last week. “We raised money so fast that we can’t process it,” he said. “Since Saturday [Oct. 14], we’ve exceeded $13 million, and that’s just online.” (The Times piece ran on Oct. 12.)
Tieks, a Los Angeles-based shoe company, launched a “Tieks for Israel” fundraiser to support Israeli hospitals and has already raised more than $158,000, it stated on Oct. 16.
“As a proud Jew and Israeli, the recent attacks by Hamas hit close to home,” stated Kfir Gavrieli, the company’s CEO, five days prior. “I am honored to see the Tieks community stepping up and showing solidarity with Israel in such a meaningful way.”
Time for ‘unprecedented action’
Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel, told JNS that if ever there was a time to “take unprecedented action,” that time is now in response to the massacre undertaken by the Hamas terror organization on men, women and children. “Love is not what you say. Love is what you do,” said the pastor, who has long been a strong supporter of Israel.
CUFI’s board decided unanimously a week ago to send $1 million to Israeli organizations that are “addressing life-saving needs there on the ground, including hospitals, ambulances and first responders,” Hagee told JNS. CUFI continues to raise funds for those causes through a national campaign, the pastor said.
The Philos Project, a nonprofit that in part supports Christian engagement with Israel, is raising money for those attacked on kibbutzim, “where over 11,000 Philos and Passages trip participants have visited,” Luke Moon, the Project’s deputy director, told JNS. “We are also putting together a solidarity trip to Israel for Christian leaders.”
Philos has also led 12 hours of prayer and fasting, according to Moon, and the organization has recommended that Americans bring flowers to local synagogues to express their support of their Jewish neighbors.