9,000 Israeli citizens have become displaced persons overnight. They have been torn from their homes, jobs, friends and communities. Scattered in 42 locations around the country, in hotel rooms, kibbutzim, caravans and tents, all their household possessions are stored in 20 ft containers somewhere in the Negev Desert. Many are still wearing the clothes they were evicted in; their shirts torn in the traditional sign of mourning.

Friends, it is our privilege to help them come to terms with their trauma and begin to rebuild their lives. The residents of Gush Katif did not ask to be placed in this situation, they were always self-supporting, and in fact brought in millions of dollars to the Israeli economy through their exports of flowers, herbs and organic produce. Their family and friends gave their lives for what the Israeli Government deemed to be the security of the country.

Yet now they are dependent on others’ generosity as a direct result of the actions of the Israeli Government (with US approval)- yet the compensation, solutions and response of the government are totally inadequate. The Government Disengagement Authority (SELA) and the Statutory Welfare Services, who are technically responsible for the care of the evacuees have already proven themselves to be incapable or uninterested in providing effective care. The people of Gush Katif need your support to help them reestablish their lives.

Lema’an Achai (RBS) is an award-winning nonprofit social services agency based in Ramat Beit Shemesh. It has successfully pioneered the concept of “Smart Chesed” in Israel, combining primary aid to families in distress, with numerous rehabilitation programs, run by a committed core of professionals and around 400 volunteers. While continuing to serve the ongoing needs of our 1000 local recipients, Lema’an Achai will now use our expertise to separately provide mental health and crisis services to the evacuees of Gush Katif.

In the weeks leading to the evacuation, Lema’an Achai gathered together a voluntary team of fifty leading psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers and established a forum in which they were able to exchange information and recommendations. In this way, Lema’an Achai was immediately able to dispatch volunteer social workers and psychologists to hotels in Jerusalem, Beersheva, Ashkelon, Eilat and the Dead Sea as the first bewildered evacuees arrived at their temporary accommodations. Our services were coordinated together with those of other organizations, such as Paamonim-Lemaan Achai Verei, in order to maximize efficiency and reach all those in need.

On Sunday, 28th August, these 9,000 people are due to be thrown out of these hotels and into a void. They want to stay together in their communities, the only connection that remains to their former lives. The government has offered no real solutions to their plight.

  • Lema’an Achai is launching an emergency campaign to raise funds for vital programs * that will help the people of Gush Katif to cope with their trauma and gather together their community resources to rebuild their lives. Specifically, Lema’an Achai are planning the following short term and long term programs (adapting to the dynamics in the field):
  • National Trauma & Crisis Relief Services
    The goal is to provide a quality level of professional counseling and therapy to people wherever they are. Some of the evacuated residents will suffer the effects long-term, even for generations (as happened with Yamit). For these families, professional trauma and crisis intervention starting now and continuing until no longer required, will enable them to regain their balance and to rebuild their lives again as self-sufficient, industrious and motivated Jews. Your help can keep 1,800 families together.
  • Atzmona/Shalabim/Beit Shemesh – 75 families (a staggering 800 people!) from the village of Atzmona are being hosted in Shalabim and have been ‘adopted’ by Beit Shemesh. Lema’an Achai (RBS) is taking a leading role in this, including supplying primary aid (including towels, fans, diapers, etc. ) and professional rehabilitation services.
  • Virtual Communities:
    The goal is to help the dispersed residents to restore their cohesive communities through the provision of internet community websites, forums and list-groups that will enable them to maintain contact with one another however physically distanced they find themselves. Access to their virtual community will provide them with the group support and a renewed identity until they are able to physically come together. Internet and email communities are relatively unknown to the Israeli public – Lemaan Achai will recruit hi-tech volunteers to set-up and maintain the virtual communities and teach the evacuees how to use them. We will provide free laptops and training so that no evacuee need ever feel alone.
  • Show Them You Care
    Many of the evacuees feel abused and abandoned by society. They need to see your concern and support for them. Lema’an Achai is establishing a service that will allow caring Jews all over the world to scan and send letters and pictures of support, for us to distribute to these people during their sorrow. Show them you care. (Until we have the system running, please email scanned letters as LIGHT jpeg attachments to carmi@lemaanachai.org )

My dear friends, the residents of Gush Katif have been turned into transitory dwellers, at least for the next few years. Let us show them that we have the ability and the intent to be there for them, wherever they may be.

Thank you,

David Morris
Chairperson, Lema’an Achai

Donations:

Israel Tax Deductible Donations should be made out to “Lema’an Achai”, earmarked “Gush Katif Fund”,
and sent to:
Lema’an Achai (RBS)
40/7 Nachal Lachish
Ramat Beit Shemesh 99093
ISRAEL.

Secure online donations:
www.lemaanachai.org/donate.asp#Online

Credit Card Donations: Call (+972-2) 999-9933 for Credit Card Donations 24 hours a day.

US Dollar Check requiring US Tax Deduction:
Please make checks payable to:
“American Friends of Lema’an Achai”; on Memo Line indicate: “Gush Katif Fund”
c/o Simon Fleischer
35 West 96th St #1F
New York, NY 10025

UK Tax Deductible Donations: should be made payable to “The Jewish Aid Committee” and mailed to Lema’an Achai (RBS) in Israel.
Canadian Tax Deductible Donations: should be made payable to “Shaarei Tefillah” and mailed to Lema’an Achai (RBS) in Israel.

For more information, please contact david@lemaanachai.org,
or call (+9722) 999-7107

Please pass this on to you close family and friends, with your personal recommendations.

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