Israel at War
Our Critical Needs Now and Throughout 2024
As the war in Israel exceeds 100 days, marking another somber milestone since October 7, ORT is committed to its emergency response throughout 2024. To date ORT has raised close to $2.4 million, and we estimate an additional $1.4 million is needed to continue providing critical mental health services, educational resources, and security support.
Ensuring Continued Education
Almost all ORT students across Israel are continuing their education, either in-person or online, part-time, or full-time, at their own schools, in evacuation centers or in temporary residences.
The area around Kfar Silver Youth Village, located only 8 miles from the Gaza border, is now considered safe enough for the students to return. So far, 230 boarding school students have made the Village their home again and day students have resumed in-person classes for four or five days per week.
Outside of Kfar Silver, ORT has provided in-person and online stress relief and STEAM activities for 1st-8th grade students across Israel, from Eilat in the South to the Northern Galilee. ORT staff have facilitated almost 400 workshops, engaging more than 5,600 children in 50 evacuation centers, hotels that house evacuees, and hospitals across Israel.
ORT is currently focusing on programming for students residing in 12 "permanent" evacuation centers. Funding is needed to provide a structured schedule of activities and programmatic initiatives, giving instructors the opportunity to develop long-term trusted relationships with families and students in desperate need of stability.
Over a dozen one-time grants of direct aid have been provided to ORT students and staff members in financial need due to loss of income, displacement, or illness and we will continue to assess and distribute aid as needed. Schools across the network continue to need additional funding for teacher training primarily regarding the mental health and wellness needs of their students.
Expanding Mental Health and Respite Programs
The need for psychological support is unprecedented. Israelis are traumatized – by the October 7 attacks, the persistent fear of further terrorism, and worry for family members actively serving in the IDF. Many students are receiving additional, one-on-one support from school counselors, social workers and psychologists. Teachers and instructors are being trained to facilitate stress and anxiety-alleviating activities. Funding is needed to continue this support until the end of 2024 at least.
ORT has also begun to offer international respite and support trips to Israeli teens who have been directly impacted by the war, including those who have lost a family member. Small groups of students from Kfar Silver and war-affected regions in the north and south will have an opportunity to travel overseas for two to three weeks, accompanied by staff.
Host schools in cities in the United States and other countries will provide students with a full schedule of school activities, cultural exchanges, and recreational programming. The goal of all activities is to foster a sense of normalcy, unity and fun despite challenging circumstances. A program in Mexico City in partnership with the ORT Olamí School took place in January and a second program will take place in Los Angeles in February. Funding is required to offer additional respite and support programs.
The safety and security of the Kfar Silver Youth Village is a top priority, as it is situated so close to the Gaza border. ORT’s immediate response included purchasing additional safety equipment and upgrading the existing perimeter infrastructure of the village.
Additional funding is needed for:
- Emergency-response equipment and regular training sessions for preparedness for staff members.
- Strengthening the village's perimeter with increased security measures, such as enhanced fencing, motion-sensor-equipped cameras, and additional lighting.
- Expanding surveillance coverage and the establishment of a dedicated security station at the main gates for comprehensive safety protocols.
A Critical Time
Israel faces a period of greater need than at any other point in its 75 years of statehood. ORT students, teachers, colleagues and their families need your support now. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have provided immediate emotional and educational support across ORT’s network, as well as for thousands of other Israeli students in schools, hotels and evacuation centers. Your continued support will ensure our ORT family and the people of Israel know they are not alone during their darkest hour.