December 24, 2006 / 3 Tevet 5767
Hundreds of Sderot youth narrowly missed the escalating Kassam rocket attacks on their city, thanks to the Jewish Agency's Chanukah program that brought over 5,000 children out of the range of fire.
Wednesday, December 20th saw a record number of rockets launched against western Negev residents. The streets of Sderot, meant to be filled with joyous Chanukah celebrations, were deserted. But many parents were able to breathe a sigh of relief as their children were safely enjoying museums and theater performances in Tel Aviv.
"The Jewish Agency's extensive activities during Chanukah allowed our children to feel like children again," says Aryeh Houdari, director of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council's Education Department. "It was wonderful to see them laughing and relaxing as they enjoyed shows, visited museums and toured the country. It was a much needed reprieve."
Some 2,700 youth attended theater performances in Tel Aviv. For a number of these youth, this was their first theater experience. An additional 2,300 children and teenagers went to amusement parks, museums and educational tourist attractions in central Israel.
With the generous support of its partners around the world, Jewish Federations in the United States through the United Jewish Communities (UJC) and Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Agency also staged a colorful festival in the Eshkol Region that was open to the general public free of charge every day between the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Thousands of children and their parents from Sderot and the Gaza perimeter communities enjoyed circus performances, appearances by performing artists and good festival fun.
The Jewish Agency and its partners are committed to supporting vulnerable populations in Israel. As such, families living in Sderot and surrounding areas have been invited for "tranquil weekends" away from the constant fear and terror they live under.
The Jewish Agency also assisted northern communities during Chanukah. Activities took place in Safed, Upper Galilee, Nahariya, Migdal Ha'emek, Hatzor Haglilit, Tiberias, Kiryat Shmona, Upper Nazareth and Maalot.