May 13, 2008 / 8 Iyar 5768
4,000 attended Independence Day celebrations
3,000 students at Sderot's Sapir College awarded grants
3,000 schoolchildren taken for trips during Passover break
The Jewish Agency for Israel hosted nearly 4,000 residents of the Sderot area for Independence Day celebrations on Thursday (May 8), where families enjoyed music, arts and crafts, games and food in a day-long happening in at Park Eshkol, in an area out of the range of Kassam rockets. The Jewish Agency has hosted large Independence Day events over the last several years, as the rocket threat has made it too dangerous to hold large outdoor gatherings in Sderot or the immediate vicinity.
Earlier last week, the Jewish Agency awarded grants to 3,000 students at Sapir College, adjacent to Sderot, in an effort to encourage students to continue studying at the college, despite the insecurity and disruption caused by continuing rocket attacks in the area. The grants, which total $1.7 million, were presented at a ceremony at the college Monday (May 5) by Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski. Students receiving the grants commit to 12 hours of volunteer work a week in the Sderot area.
During the Passover holiday, over 3,000 schoolchildren were taken out of the area on one-, two- and three-day trips around Israel – to places including Eilat, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem and the Galilee. All of these activities were underwritten by funding from the United Jewish Communities – Federations of North America as part of the Israel Emergency Campaign.
"The joy of the 60th Independence Day of the State of Israel is marred by the mounting casualties in the Sderot area, as we continue to pay the price of maintaining our national Jewish home," said Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski. "For our part, we, with the backing of our partners around the world, will do everything we can to strengthen and assist these Israelis who live on the front lines and have been bearing a huge burden day in and day out, for years and sometimes pay with their lives. We stand with them and support them, and the entire Jewish People stands with them and supports them."
Above: Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski shakes the hand of a Sapir college student as she is awarded a grant last week. In all, 3,000 grants were awarded to encourage students continue their studies at the college, despite the threat of rocket attacks.
Below: 4,000 Sderot-area residents enjoy Independence Day Thursday (May 8) at a mega-event organized for residents, outside the area of rocket attack.
The Jewish Agency is supported by founding constituent partners: Keren Hayesod, United Jewish Communities and Jewish federations around the world; and primary funders: Keren Hayesod, United Jewish Communities and major Jewish Federations in North America, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.