22 Kislev, 5762
500-Strong "UJC Israel Now" Solidarity Mission in Israel
A 500-strong "Israel Now and Forever" solidarity mission of the United Jewish Communities of North America arrived in Israel on December 3rd in a show of strength and support with Israel in the wake of the wave of terrorist bombings and attacks which took the lives of 26 Israelis and wounded hundreds. The mission represented 37 different communities from across the United States with special emphasis on Western and Central USA. Largest contingents were from St. Paul and Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Detroit. The UJC is the Jewish Agency's partnership and fundraising link with Jewish communities of North America. Jewish communities from abroad are directly linked to Israeli communities through the Jewish Agency's Partnership 2000 program. Some 550 Diaspora communities participate in this program.
The first stop for the group was at the Western Wall for a night-time ceremony. Mission members also toured the Yad Sarah rehabilitation center where the UJC donates funds through the Jewish Agency. UJC volunteers assembled walkers at the Yad Sarah facility. Members of the group visited the Gilo neighborhood, which had repeatedly come under terrorist fire. With UJC funding the Jewish Agency supports kindergartens and cultural institutions in the neighborhood, and installed air-conditioners built playgrounds for kindergartens. The Jewish Agency is also involved in building a music center in the area with the assistance of Keren Hayesod. The group members saw the reinforced apartments and spoke with residents. They also Gilo-Beit-Jala-Bethlehem junction and learned first hand about its strategic implications. The group later met with Minister Natan Sharansky and held a candle-lighting memorial ceremony at the Ben Yehuda Jerusalem pedestrian mall where two suicide bombers had murdered ten youngsters on Saturday night December 2nd.
A total of nineteen buses transported contingents to Partnership 2000 projects, run jointly with teams of US community and Israeli partner community members. In Netanya mayor Miriam Frestone together with Jewish Agency officials held a ceremony at the Netanya Hashron mall where a suicide bomber had blown himself up. The security guard who had stopped the terrorist attended and relived the incident. Cinncinati is linked to Netanya in the Partnership 2000 program, raising funds annually for projects in the city. Among the projects is the funding of a volunteer community patrol at the cost of $65,000. Cincinnati supplied the second largest contingent comprised of 65 members to the present mission.
Joel Alperson, Chairman of the UJC Israel Now Solidarity Mission and a Nebraska Native, said "Israelis are more heartened by our visit today than they were in the past. Today it is our duty to get the message out and tell our people back home to visit Israel and support Israel now."For further information:
Contact the Office of the Spokesman:
Liaison to Foreign Press and Media JAFI