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Dear Friends,

The situation emerging in Israel is very fluid, and I want to bring the community up to date as quickly as possible. An earlier statement has been issued by our partner agency JCRC.

After four days of rocket attacks by Hamas in southern Israel, the IDF struck back, killing the head of Hamas’s military wing and striking military installations inside of Gaza. As of Friday afternoon, Hamas had continued its barrage, striking just outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These rocket attacks not only destroy lives and property, they undermine the health and wellbeing of any person particularly the 130,000 children aged 9-14 years old who live within striking distance of these rockets. This year alone residents in the area have withstood hundreds of rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza. With as little as 15 seconds of notice before an attack, the psychological effects are enormous.

The Jewish community of St. Louis stands in solidarity with the people of Israel as they suffer through yet another assault on their lives, property and psyches. We share the US State Department’s view that “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself.” We too recognize the right of Israel and any sovereign nation to defend its people from such wanton attacks and put an end to the indiscriminate targeting of its civilians.

The suffering is significant and our response has already begun. Working with our overseas partners of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and ORT, Jewish Federations of North America has authorized up to $5 Million to support the immediate relief efforts of those most affected. Such services include trauma counseling, financial assistance, portable bomb shelters, and potentially other initiatives including bringing children in the strike zones out of harm’s way.

Jewish Federation of St. Louis has just authorized an emergency allocation to provide meals to a group of students from the south that will be spending Shabbat in the north. We are committed to doing our part to alleviate the suffering and raise our proportional share of the JFNA relief fund: $73,475. I hope you will join me in contributing to help stop the suffering that these attacks are causing and, as I said in my earlier posting about Hurricane Sandy, communicate St. Louis’s support to the people of Israel.

Our total fiscal response will depend on whether this situation escalates, and we pray that it does not. However, our moral support will remain constant. I am certain I express all of our concern for the lives continually and persistently affected by this situation and the hopes that it will be resolved as quickly as possible.

I will write again as the situation develops, and we will be posting links to information on Jewishinstlouis.org. Until then, have a peaceful Shabbat as we wish the same for all in the region.

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of St. Louis