I would like to thank you for your wishes and support on my upcoming trip to Israel. On Tuesday I sent an email shortly after deciding to join the trip. My intention was to provide opportunities for the dispersed individual members of our communities to respond to the current crisis through letters, wishes, and acts of Tzedakah (Jewish righteous acts).
In our tradition, the highest form of helping is done personally or through the appointment of a shaliah mitzvah (a personal agent who will perform the act for you).
After consulting with colleagues at Smith and Amherst, I realize that many read the letter as a direct solicitation. While this was not my intent, I understand that my email is confusing and problematic from an institutional standpoint.
It would have been more appropriate for me to recommend organizations that you can support directly. Accordingly, I ask you not to send money and will be returning any money already sent.
I remain willing to take your personal letters or wishes (as long as they arrive ASAP). [obviously I can't do this now]
Here are a few ways, you can personally respond to the crisis.
Magen David Adom is the Israel Government mandated emergency and blood services and is the recognized member of the International Red Cross and Crescent Association. 95% of all ambulance services, 100% 0f IDF Blood service, 97% of all blood services are provided
by MDA as an unfunded government mandated operation.
They are running emergency blood drives and crash courses for MDA volunteers. For more information, visit their web site.
Yad Sarah, Israel's largest volunteer organization provides free or nominal medical care and equipment to any who ask (regardless of religion or nationality).
When my family lived in Israel, they provided medical equipment for our temporary use. Supporting this organization is a great way to support the most needy
among the sick, elderly, and injured. For more information, visit their web site.
I am a member of Rabbis for Human Rights North America. Rabbi for Human Rights is the sole Israeli organization, including rabbis from all the movements of Judaism, whose purpose is to give voice to the Jewish religious traditions of human rights and to strive for justice and peace as reflected in Israel's Declaration of Independence.
Rabbis for Human Rights educates Israelis in the schools, the army, and in local communities about the human rights and Judaism. It advocates for economic justice for all Israelis and protects the rights of Palestinians by preventing home demolitions and protecting olive groves and harvesters. For more information, visit their North American affiliate.
Additionally, the Ziv Tzedakah Foundation provides educational information about smaller non-profits doing direct service in Israel. Educator Danny Siegel created Ziv to spread the word about the important Jewish value of righteous, personal action. For more information, visit Ziv.
I look forward to sharing my experiences with you when I return. I am also happy to talking with any of you about this and/or my previous email. I will be thinking of all of you over the next week. Please let me know if there are individuals you would like me to reach while I am in Israel.