June 13, 2024
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Communities Across the US Mobilize in Migdal Ohr’s ‘Magen Israel’ Relief Efforts

Rabbi Grossman helping displaced special needs children.

(Courtesy of Migdal Ohr) Migdal Ohr, one of Israel’s most impactful social welfare organizations, has undertaken its largest humanitarian relief effort in history under the leadership of its founder, Israel Prize Laureate Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman. During the COVID pandemic, the Israeli government called on Rabbi Grossman to spearhead a major packaging relief effort and during the Second Lebanon War, Migdal Ohr hosted hundreds of soldiers on their campus.

In the outbreak of the war with Gaza, the organization mobilized donors all over the world in a massive campaign to provide shelter to over 4,000 evacuees from the Gaza border. The Magen Israel initiative then quickly expanded to respond to immediate needs that were emerging on the front lines and in Israel’s hospitals.

As a unifying and beloved national figure, Rabbi Grossman has always taken the approach that Israel is one family with one heart. That ethos pervades the organization’s activities, from now hosting over 1,000 soldiers on Migdal Ohr’s campuses to cooking over 2,000 meals a day out of Migdal Ohr’s soup kitchens for families in hospitals and soldiers on the front lines.

To date, the Magen Israel activities in Israel have included:

‘s Executive Director, Atara Solow, renovatind a bomb shelter with the Yeshiva of Flatbush

Sheltering Evacuees From Gaza Border Communities

Magen Israel has assumed responsibility for housing, feeding, clothing and providing for the needs of 4,000 individuals from communities who have been evacuated from the Gaza envelope. This includes activities and daycare for children, outfitting hotels for family living, therapies, and anything that people need to weather this traumatic and difficult period. It also included the purchase of over $160,000 in clothing, games, supplies and essentials distributed to evacuees not being housed in hotels and an Emergency Fund that distributed $1,300 per family in the immediate wake of the massacres.

Rabbi Grossman distributing goods and tactile gear to brigades of soldiers

Supporting Soldiers At Army Bases and the Wounded in Hospitals

Migdal Ohr has over 1,000 alumni and faculty currently serving in the IDF or in reserves and a long history of partnership with the army. To date, Magen Israel has purchased over $250,000 in warm clothing, boots, drones, helmets, gear, hot plates and urns for thousands of soldiers on bases across Israel. The effort also purchased and delivered over 1,500 mattresses to hospitals and military bases that needed places for reservists and medical personnel to sleep. Migdal Ohr’s soup kitchens also expanded operations to send hot, nutritious meals to families in hospitals and soldiers on army bases.

Expanding Care For Orphaned and Underprivileged Children on Campus

Migdal Ohr cares for over 10,000 orphaned and underprivileged children and teens. During the war, they expanded protected spaces to guard against rocket attacks on their campuses and opened day-long programs for over 200 children with special needs while schools had closed.

Rabbi Grossman has visited dozens of army and airforce bases personally, blessing the soldiers with coins to give to tzedakah upon their safe return from war. He has also made regular visits to Israel’s hospitals, giving strength to the wounded and providing hope to their families. He has appeared on national television numerous times giving interviews to strengthen the nation’s unity and resolve.

In the U.S., the American Friends of Migdal Ohr (AFMO) campaign has seen an incredible outpouring of solidarity with initiatives from synagogues, schools, restaurants and local businesses, all raising funds and sending donations to Israel.

Yeshiva of Flatbush renovating a bomb shelter in the north at Migdal Ohr

Examples of community-based efforts include a one-to-one matching campaign by the owners of Cedar Market in Teaneck that raised $100,000 and a clothing and toy drive spearheaded by AFMO board members and a network of volunteers across the tri-state area that sent over 150 duffle bags to evacuees. Migdal Ohr was also the beneficiary of $100,000 raised by the Little Champions Foundation, which hosted its annual young professionals event this fall. Numerous organizations put on bake sales and hosted local Shabbat markets which raised thousands of dollars for Magen Israel. AFMO Executive Director Atara Solow even joined a delegation from the Mikdash Eliyahu Synagogue in Brooklyn and Yeshiva of Flatbush High School that came to strengthen and support soldiers, wounded individuals, and children at Migdal Ohr during the war.

Before Chanukah, American Friends of Migdal Ohr is organizing a “Goods and Services Shuk,” a silent auction where people can donate and bid on unique items to benefit Magen Israel. They are also participating in a “Be the Light’’ campaign initiated by Yeshivat He’Atid with numerous Jewish day schools. The campaign is encouraging families to donate a night’s worth of Chanukah gifts toward presents and parties for Israeli children who have had to evacuate their homes.

Migdal Ohr takes displaced families out for a day of fun

Solow said, “As an Israeli living in the Diaspora, it has been extremely comforting and inspiring to see the love and unity of the Jewish people. We truly are one nation. When we are hurting in Israel, the Jewish community abroad is with us, feeling the pain and doing everything in their power to send support and assistance. I cannot tell you how proud and humbled I have been to be involved in Magen Israel. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to get involved.”

To learn more about Magen Israel and how to get involved, visit migdalohrusa.org/israel.

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