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Israelis returning home in north, south get support for basic needs

IFCJ president Yael Eckstein said that “one of the bright lights amid all this pain has been the support and spirit of partnership that has been created to respond to all sorts of needs for the people of Israel.”

Rabbi Menachem Traxler of Colel Chabad with debit cards printed in Kibbutz Be'eri for displaced Israelis to use for basic needs following the terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, 2023. Credit: Courtesy,
Rabbi Menachem Traxler of Colel Chabad with debit cards printed in Kibbutz Be'eri for displaced Israelis to use for basic needs following the terrorist attacks of Oct. 7, 2023. Credit: Courtesy,

While the pace of events is gradually ushering Israelis into a war “routine” for families displaced from their homes, conditions are gradually allowing many of them to return. Still, their practical and emotional needs will remain for some time.

In cooperation with the Jewish Federations of North America and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, Colel Chabad has announced a program supporting 16,000 of these families with debit cards of 450 NIS (about $120) that can be used to purchase food and basic supplies upon the return home.

In recent days, Israeli homefront officials have said that communities beyond four kilometers from the borders with the Gaza Strip or Lebanon will be able to return to their homes in the near future.

“Within all the pain and tension associated with this bitter war, it is a source of incredible light to see people return to their communities,” said Rabbi Shalom Duchman, director of Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest-running running social-services organization, founded by the Alter Rebbe in 1788. “We know that this transition will come with a sense of uncertainty and stress, and we want to be here for those who need any assistance to make this next stage a little easier.”

The cards, printed at the factory in Kibbutz Be’eri, which was one of the hardest hit communities in the Oct. 7 attack, will be distributed through Colel Chabad’s network in the south, in coordination with the local welfare department representatives for those communities.

Rebecca Caspi, senior vice president for Israel & Overseas at Jewish Federations of North America, said “Jewish Federations have raised over $650 million, an unprecedented sum, for Israel in its hour of need. These funds are being rapidly deployed offering lifelines to Israelis suffering as a result of the barbaric attack on October 7th and its aftermath.  We are proud of our support for Colel Chabad’s important work providing aid to those from the south returning home after the terrible trauma they have experienced. We know that the thousands of hot meals and pre-paid credit cards make a world of difference to a population that has suffered so much. We salute Colel Chabad’s dedication to helping people of all backgrounds in their hour of need. Their work is an inspiration.”

Colel Chabad also announced that additional support from the IFCJ and with funds raised through the Israeli television show, Hatzinor, families currently part of the National Food Security Initiative with a spouse called up to the army reserves will be allocated an additional grant of 2,000 NIS (about $540). The National Food Security Initiative, implemented by Colel Chabad, supports Israeli families in need in regions throughout the country and has significantly expanded their support since the outbreak of the war.

IFCJ president Yael Eckstein said that “one of the bright lights amid all this pain has been the support and spirit of partnership that has been created to respond to all sorts of needs for the people of Israel.”

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, founded by the late Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, is the largest philanthropic social aid organization in Israel, working to strengthen Israeli citizens and Jews in the Diaspora. In the past 40 years, it has raised $3.1 billion to provide assistance and support to vulnerable communities. The Fellowship’s activities are made possible through the support and generosity of hundreds of thousands of supporters of Israel worldwide. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto and Seoul. For more information, visit: www.ifcj.org.
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