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JDC says urgent need for more aid for struggling Israelis

JDC deploys new resilience, economic and wellness initiatives to aid evacuees, reservists, frontline residents, terror-attack survivors and jobless.

JDC's fleet of mobile social-service and employment units, like this one in Herzliya, ensure evacuees receive the aid, training and counseling support they need as they grapple with displacement and joblessness. Photo by Ariel Hanin.
JDC's fleet of mobile social-service and employment units, like this one in Herzliya, ensure evacuees receive the aid, training and counseling support they need as they grapple with displacement and joblessness. Photo by Ariel Hanin.

Nearly six months after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) issued a call for increased support for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis impacted by spiking unemployment, displacement and widespread trauma. JDC has now shifted its emergency response to address these needs through new large-scale initiatives reviving frontline cities and towns; fueling economic recovery, job training and placement; and supporting emotional and physical healing. To date, JDC’s emergency services have directly aided 120,000 of the hardest-hit Israelis.

“The number of Israelis reliant on social support has grown exponentially since Oct 7. We are addressing their needs in real-time and on a grand scale—bringing together coalitions of NGOs, the business sector, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and the government to help rebuild individual lives and strengthen the whole country as it sets a path to recovery,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “This effort will last for many months and years ahead, part of our commitment to ensuring all Israelis have a brighter future. We do this urgent work while praying for the return of the remaining hostages in Gaza and, above all, for peace.”

Israel’s battered frontline cities just outside the Gaza envelope and those under bombardment in the north were already home to vulnerable people, but the war has resulted in tens of thousands more who have lost jobs or businesses, survived attacks or have become disabled. JDC’s new Mashiv Haruach (Reviving Spirit) program is currently building community resilience, healing and sustainable recovery in Ofakim, Ashkelon, Rahat and expanding to Nahariya in the north. The initiative offers a menu of innovative emergency-response practices, upgraded social services, and economic aid to lift all residents. These services are replicable and when scaled to dozens of cities and towns around Israel, could reach millions of people.

JDC aid workers unpack emergency medical supplies for Israelis with disabilities who remain in locations under fire or who have been evacuated to different areas in Israel. Credit: Courtesy of JDC.

Israel’s economy has been devastated by the war, with its GDP reduced by nearly 20%, and an additional 100,000 Israelis seeking jobs, including evacuees and reservists who have returned from military service without employment. JDC deployed a fleet of mobile job-training units and worked in partnerships with employers to build a training-and-placement initiative to reskill this workforce and get them into available jobs. Additionally, JDC implemented a customized business-support program that works with small business owners and farms to ensure they can continue operating. This program includes the creation of new business plans and online platforms to increase revenue and reach, in addition to professional consultants to guide the implementation. More than 1,100 struggling small businesses, farms, factories and industries have already benefited from JDC’s emergency support.

In addition to this, JDC is providing wide-reaching mental health and trauma support through online and new tech resources as well as early childhood and teen development programs for youth whose lives have been derailed by displacement and loss, filling gaps in their learning and re-establishing routines.

JDC’s emergency response to date has been supported by Jewish federations and tens of thousands of foundations, families, corporations and individual donors to:

  • Provide 120,000 Israelis with direct aid, including food and cash assistance; education, welfare and employment services; mental-health solutions, and online and mobile social services.
  • Deploy training and tools to more than 42,000 professionals engaged in crisis response and trauma programs.
  • Ensure professional guidance and support to more than 1,800 NGOs and municipalities providing emergency services and relief around Israel.

Before Oct. 7, a million Israelis every week were touched by social services created by JDC. Since its founding in 1914 to aid starving Jews in Jerusalem impacted by the outbreak of World War I, JDC has invested in excess of 10 billion shekels to improve the lives of Israel’s most vulnerable, to close social gaps and to ensure opportunity for all Israelis.

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Active today in 70 countries, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) work to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and help Israel overcome the social challenges of its most vulnerable citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Our reach extends beyond the global Jewish community by providing high-impact disaster relief and long-term development assistance worldwide.
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