This Hanukkah, we want to bring your attention to organizations making a tangible difference for those directly impacted by Hamas’ horrific attack, Israel’s ensuing military operation, and the devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.
These organizations are rays of light in the darkness, purveyors of hope in a time of heartbreak, pain and despair.
Each night of Hanukkah, we will highlight one of these groups for the J Street community. We invite you to learn more about their crucial work and, in this season of giving, offer any support you can to help them save lives and build a future of peace, safety and freedom for Israelis and Palestinians.
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a neutral, impartial and independent organization working tirelessly to provide lifesaving medical care on both sides of the Gazan border. The Red Cross has been present inIsrael and the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967 and supports both the Magen David Adom ambulance network in Israel and the Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance network, with staff working round the clock to treat casualties and provide urgent humanitarian assistance.
The Red Cross has been persistently advocating on behalf of the hostages held in Gaza, including directly with Hamas and with actors who may have influence on the hostage situation.
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum was formed by the families of the abductees less than 24 hours after the horrific October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel in which more than 1200 innocent civilians were murdered and hundreds taken hostage. The Forum is volunteer-run and entirely focused on bringing hostages home and reuniting them with their families.
The Forum offers families holistic medical and emotional support as well as professional assistance, and advances the ongoing efforts – locally, regionally and globally – to bring the hostages and the missing home.
Among the thousands of the Forum’s volunteers and supporters are the hostages’ family members and friends and top security, law, media and diplomacy experts who have donated their time to this cause.
Donations to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum are directed towards advancing all necessary efforts through diplomatic, medical and legal channels and towards raising public awareness of the hostage crisis via campaigns run in Israel and abroad.
The Hostages and Missing Families Forum feels that demanding the release of innocent hostages does not require bravery, nor is the act political in nature. Many of the hostages are children, women and the elderly. We invite you to support the Hostages and Missing Families Forum at this tremendously difficult time and stand by the innocent civilians and their families in a clear demand to #BRINGTHEMHOMENOW.
Dror Israel Emergency Response
Dror Israel is an education-focused non-profit striving for a just, equal and democratic Israel. Through an innovative educational approach based on dialogue and understanding, Dror Israel teaches leadership and responsibility at both the individual and communal levels. The organization comprises 1,300 trained educators in 16 communities who work to promote social activism to drive positive change. Dror’s youth movement, schools and local and national programming support 150,000 people each year.
With schools closing, hundreds of thousands of reservists being called up and thousands of Israelis traumatized, Dror Israel educators are responding to the current state of emergency by:
Supporting traumatized children and families who have been evacuated from Gaza border communities. Dror Israel is providing 60+ daycare and youth programs for traumatized individuals.
Providing youth counselors and educators to underprivileged communities. In communities where residents do not have easy access to a safe room, Dror Israel’s experienced youth educators are running therapeutic and educational programs for children and families in cities like Rehovot, Beer Sheva and Ashkelon.
Establishing day care centers for children of hospital workers and other essential staff. Hospitals throughout Israel have turned to Dror Israel to set up childcare facilities for children of doctors, nurses, and staff so they are able to treat the injured amidst widespread school closures.
Supporting children and families who are sheltering in place. Dror Israel provides in-person and online programming, distributing activity kits and other educational materials in Sderot, Ashkelon, Rehobot and more.
Dror Israel’s programs are reaching tens of thousands of Israelis each week and will continue as long as necessary.
New Israel Fund: Emergency Safety Net
Following the Hamas attack on Israeli communities near the Gaza border and the ensuing war, the New Israel Fund (NIF) mobilized resources and staff around the world to meet the immense needs of the moment. The global NIF community is mourning with everyone in Israel and Gaza who has lost loved ones and continuing its decades-long work toward a better future for all. NIF is providing aid to Israelis – both Jewish and Arab – who have been impacted by this deepening crisis; advocating for the immediate release of more than 200 hostages being held captive by Hamas in Gaza; safeguarding human and civil rights in Israel and the occupied West Bank; and working to advance a shared, peaceful future for everyone in Israel.
NIF’s Emergency Safety Net response is focusing on the following critical areas:
Humanitarian aid and basic needs – Assisting the most vulnerable communities in Israel and providing mental health and trauma counseling to NGO staff and affected individuals.
Safeguarding human and civil rights – Ensuring that freedom of speech and expression are protected and raising awareness about escalating violence toward Palestinians and activists in the occupied West Bank. Monitoring fake news online. And tracking and identifying incitement online and in digital forums, particularly by right-wing groups targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel and left-wing activists and relaying them to law enforcement/security authorities.
Bolstering Jewish-Arab relations – Working to Prevent escalation in shared Jewish-Arab cities and areas of potential tension and working to preserve the critical space for a shared society.
Providing an alternative vision for Israel’s future – Reevaluating Israel’s priorities and presenting a peaceful, equitable vision for the future.
The situation on the ground is both fluid and dangerous and there are, undoubtedly, very difficult times ahead. In this moment of crisis, NIF is providing support to those Israelis looking out for the most vulnerable, fighting hatred and incitement, and defending the hope for a truly shared future for all Israelis.
Gisha is an Israeli not-for-profit organization that protects the freedom of movement of Palestinians, with a unique focus on Gaza residents. Gisha promotes rights guaranteed by both international and Israeli law.
Gisha uses legal assistance and public advocacy to protect the rights of Palestinian residents. Because freedom of movement is a precondition for exercising other basic human rights, Gisha’s work has a multiplier effect in helping residents of the occupied territories access education, jobs, family members and medical care.
At this time and given its unique expertise and focus, Gisha is pressing for emergency medical and humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Gaza and to push for all parties to uphold international law.
Gisha is operated by a professional staff and guided by a board that includes legal academics and practitioners, Arabs and Jews, women and men who have helped share Israeli human rights law through their own lifelong advocacy.
United Hatzalah of Israel is the largest independent, non-profit, fully volunteer Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organization. The organization stands out for its fast response times, often providing vital care before an ambulance arrives. The group has launched an emergency appeal for desperately needed supplies and equipment as its volunteer force continues to provide emergency support in southern Israel.
United Hatzalah’s goal is to render immediate lifesaving medical intervention during the critical window between the onset of an emergency and the arrival of traditional ambulance assistance.
Powered by over 7,000 volunteers throughout Israel who respond to 2,000+ emergencies each day, United Hatzalah’s services are available to all people regardless of race, religion or national origin. With the help of its innovative GPS-based technology and its iconic ambucycles (adapted motorcycle ambulances), United Hatzalah has cut down emergency medical response times in Israel to less than 3 minutes and, in many metropolitan areas, in less than 90 seconds. In 2022, United Hatzalah’s highly trained and fully equipped volunteers treated over 675,000 people (the organization has treated over 5.5 million people since its 2006 founding).
Dedicated United Hatzalah volunteers have been tirelessly treating wounded individuals in the south of Israel since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war. The organization needs additional trauma kits and protective vests in order to meet ongoing, increased demand for its services.
United Hatzalah has increased its fundraising goal to raise $49.6 million in order to fully equip 7,000 volunteers with protective vests and helmets, oxygen tanks, defibrillators, trauma bandages and tourniquets. These supplies can be ordered and delivered immediately to ensure medics on the front lines have everything they need to quickly respond to ongoing attacks and continue its critical life-saving work.
Democracy HQ Response Fund
Israel Democracy HQ – Hofshi B’Artzenu (“Free In Our Homeland”) – is the coalition of organizations fighting for a democratic, liberal state of Israel. In the months leading up to Hamas’ October 7 attack, Democracy HQ supported and coordinated the largest, strongest protests in the history of Israel, standing united against ongoing attempts by the right-wing government to tear apart the foundations and institutions of Israeli democracy.
In the wake of Hamas’ brutal attack and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war, Democracy HQ’s have united to support the people of Israel during this incredibly challenging time.
Since the war’s onset, more than 350,000 Israelis have been displaced from southern and northern Israel, with many living temporarily in hotels or with host families. Democracy HQ has established a central assistance center to connect displaced families with host families, provide transportation services from the front line to safe areas, spearhead a food convoy to hospitals, equip soldiers with life-saving protective gear, offer emergency mental hail aid and more.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) stands at the forefront of the struggle for human rights – the right to health in particular – in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Founded in 1988, PHRI works to promote a just society where the right to health is granted equally to all people under Israel’s responsibility.
Since the war’s onset, PHRI has granted urgent medical aid to communities evacuated from the Gaza envelope; sent the Gazan Ministry of Health a list of medication required by hostages held in Gaza, as well as information about those suspected of having sustained serious injuries requiring urgent medical care; promoted the immediate introduction of defensive measures for the unrecognized Bedouin communities in the Negev, the protection of the rights of prisoners and detainees during the emergency situation declared in Israel’s prisons; and fought for the right to health and access to care for refugees and asylum seekers.
PHRI is following with grave concern the assault on the Gaza Strip and, when the fighting stops and the situation allows, will send urgent medical and humanitarian aid to healthcare in Gaza, as the organization always does following rounds of fighting.