It is with the heaviest heart that I write to you tonight. As our Jewish communities around the world mark the end of the festival of Simchat Torah we are shocked and devastated by the scale of the horror that has unfolded in Israel over the past 36 hours.
Since the terror attacks began yesterday morning, our World ORT Kadima Mada staff in Israel have been working to verify and ensure the safety and security of our thousands of students and teachers across the country.
Our Kfar Silver Youth Village sits just a few kilometres from the Gaza border. I can tell you that tonight, as far as we know, almost all of our students and teachers are accounted for, are safe, and have been evacuated to sites further north.
However we also know that some Kfar Silver students have tragically lost family members – some have been murdered, others kidnapped. In addition, many Kadima Mada staff members and teachers have been drafted to the Israeli Defence Forces. Many staff and students are understandably suffering from severe shock.
Due to the holidays, almost all non-boarding students from Kfar Silver were at home with their families. Sixty-six boarding students who live at the village, and five madrichim, were on site. These boarding students, along with staff and families living at Kfar Silver, were evacuated yesterday afternoon by bus to the north of Israel where they are now safe. A limited number of staff have remained in the village to maintain the farms and ensure security.
Students are being contacted by teachers, social workers and guidance counsellors to alleviate their stress. Some Kfar Silver students do live in the areas targeted or captured by the terrorists, and contact has not yet been made with everyone.
I want to thank our friends and supporters worldwide for the countless messages of support and concern we have received. Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to support our colleagues and students across Israel. We will provide updates when possible.
In our darkest hours our strength has always come from remaining united and working together. I know our supporters will do whatever they possibly can to provide the help and assistance our students and teachers will need after this hideous atrocity. For now I am sure you will join me in praying for our ORT family in Israel and of course for all Israelis affected this weekend.
Am Yisroel Chai,
Robert Grey, Chair, World ORT
Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO