As the war in Israel reaches its 100th day, marking another gruesome milestone since October 7, ORT is planning to extend its emergency response throughout 2024.
World ORT Kadima Mada, our operational arm in Israel, has helped thousands of students and teachers over recent weeks, providing critical mental health services and educational resources.
But with hundreds of thousands of Israelis remaining displaced, with severe trauma affecting countless families, and with little prospect of our communities returning to their homes in the south before June, we must do more.
Almost all of our students across Israel are continuing their education, either in-person or online, part-time or full-time, at their own schools or in evacuation centers or in temporary residences.
We have resumed some of our regular YOUniversity programs in Kiryat Yam and Dimona and activities have also started in the Siach School in the Mateh Asher Regional Council.
At our Kfar Silver Youth Village in Ashkelon we are continuing to address safety and security needs. Almost all of the 250-plus boarding school students have returned to live in the village. Day students from each grade have resumed in-person learning three days a week, increasing throughout January.
With the threat of rockets and missiles from Gaza vastly reduced, the areas around Kfar Silver are now considered safe enough for the students to return, provided they can reach safety in the event of an alarm.
A small percentage of our Kfar Silver teacher body has moved away from the Gaza Envelope but are commuting to the village. A handful remain in service in the IDF reserves.
To manage staff shortages, the school is carefully scheduling classes to ensure students receive as much teaching time as possible, with some staff taking on overtime to enable this.MAKE A DONATION
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 are experiencing sadness, confusion, anxiety, and difficulty focusing and sleeping.
We have evaluated and continue to assess and document the mental health and emotional needs. Students who have been identified as being in greater need are receiving additional, one-on-one support from our counselors, social workers and psychologists.MAKE A DONATION
The effects of trauma are now translating into students displaying problematic behaviors with alcohol and aggression, and there is an obvious need to continue offering mental and emotional support.
Students need a creative outlet to express thoughts and feelings and to have a sense of normality. Staff are showing signs of burnout and fatigue. While we cannot predict the full level of ongoing needs, we now plan to provide this support to students and staff until at least the end of 2024.
We are providing assistance to schools via laptops, tablets and teacher training. We have supplied evacuated students with technology to enable them to participate in online learning wherever they are located. Israel’s Ministry of Education is additionally assisting with device provision for hundreds of Kfar Silver students.
Teachers and instructors are being supported in how to give students stress-alleviating activities and other methods of reducing stress and anxiety.MAKE A DONATION
World ORT Kadima Mada 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.
These activities include online workshops in subjects such as science, DIY, robotics, coding and VR.
We are now focusing our resources on 12 ‘permanent’ evacuation centers where students are unlikely to return home for the foreseeable future. Our instructors will develop long-term trusted relationships with the families and students participating in the programs in areas including Jerusalem, Regba, Ben Ami, Kiryat Shmona, Kibutz Goshrim, the Western Galilee and Upper Galilee.
More than a dozen one-time grants of direct aid have been provided to ORT students and staff members who are in financial need due to loss of income, displacement or illness. We continue to monitor these needs.MAKE A DONATION
Funding is required to offer further respite and support to 15-18 year-old Israeli youth affected by the war. Ten to 15 students from 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.
Home hospitality will be provided to all students. A program in Mexico City in partnership with the ORT Olami School will take place in January and a second program will take place in Los Angeles in February.
We are planning a third delegation to South Africa and are in early-stage discussions on further trips, potentially to the U.S. and Europe.MAKE A DONATION
We must ensure the safety and security of our Kfar Silver Youth Village. The initial short-term needs include safety equipment, reinforced security fences, cameras, and additional lighting. Two further saferooms are required for staff who live in the village.
Staff also need urgent-response equipment including helmets, day- and night-vision binoculars, protective clothing, flashlights, torches, a generator, radios, portable chargers, emergency lighting and twice-yearly training.
The perimeter fence around the village needs restoration and reinforcement. Cameras will be installed along the fence with motion sensors at critical points and 50 light poles added in the darkest parts of the village.
Some areas of the village need additional CCTV camera installation and plans are being made for the building of a professional security station at the main gates.MAKE A DONATION
Israel faces a period of greater need than at any other point in its 75 years of statehood. We are called on to support our students, teachers, colleagues and their families as never before.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have provided immediate emotional and educational support across World ORT Kadima Mada’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.MAKE A DONATION