In recent weeks, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has responded to the growing humanitarian needs of embattled communities in northern Israel by launching a number of aid projects aimed at bringing relief, particularly to children confined to bomb shelters.
In one of the latest examples, on Tuesday the ICEJ sponsored a day excursion for three bus loads of children from the hard hit areas of Kiryat Shmona, Karmiel and Nahariya to visit the Shefayim recreational water park near Herzliya. The children also received some of our 500 "activity kits" for children in bomb shelters assembled in cooperation with the King of Kings congregation in Jerusalem. The friendly mascot "A.J. the Lion" was on hand to greet the children and hand out gift packets.
One youngster was so thrilled to be having fun outdoors in the water park that he called his parents to tell them how great it was. When the father found out who had sponsored the trip, he was quoted as saying,”For weeks we wanted the city, the government, Jewish organizations, anyone to just get us out of this hell, and who comes to help but the Christians! I can’t believe it.”
The ICEJ launched its relief initiatives within the first week of fighting, when our Social Assistance Program partnered with the Haifa social welfare department to relocate over 100 children and their parents from Haifa to a hostel in the Jerusalem Forest. This scenic nature reserve provided a breath of fresh air for underprivileged families desperate to get out of harm's way. The ICEJ covered their transportation south, and provided diapers and food for babies, as well as entrance fees to the forest, escorts, and recreational activities in Jerusalem. These displaced families are still receiving our on-going assistance until the need passes.
In addition, the ICEJ quickly worked with the municipality of Karmiel in the western Galilee to bring children to private homes in Ramot, a neighborhood in northwest Jerusalem. Again, the ICEJ paid for their transportation to the center of the country, along with meals and recreational activities, all in coordination with the Ramot Community Center. These children will continue to receive assistance until the need passes.
The ICEJ also assisted an ultra-Orthodox social center in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem to find housing and provide meals and recreational activities for another 16 families from the North. The center's director, Naomi Sharabi, was very grateful for the support, saying that Jews and Christians are “one in spirit.”
In more recent weeks, the Christian Embassy's urgent humanitarian assistance has expanded dramatically, and total expenditures to date are approaching USD 100,000.
Other recent ICEJ emergency projects include:
- Sponsoring 750 meals on wheels for children and the elderly huddled in bomb shelters in Haifa, delivered by the Joint Distribution Committee.
- Sponsoring 180 meals per day for children and their families in bomb shelters in Kiryat Shmona for a week, delivered through the L’Chaim charitable organization.
- Sponsoring meals and other assistance for a group of 100 IDF reserve soldiers undergoing training updates at a kibbutz on the Golan before entering Lebanon.
- Sponsoring a week-long outing at the Dead Sea for 30 children from a church congregation in Haifa.
- Assisting a Christian Arab congregation in the Galilee to provide shelter for their children.
- Assisting congregations in Haifa and Nahariya that took in South Lebanese refugee families living in the Galilee who were forced to seek shelter.
- Distributing toys and games to hundreds of children in bomb shelters in Haifa and the Galilee.
- Assisting the Municipality of Netanya social welfare department to provide meals, baby needs and pharmaceuticals to children with no means to flee targeted areas.
- Providing food and activities for numerous other families on a case-by-case basis.