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Oct 31, 2023

Hibuki: Your Dollars at Work Right Now in Israel

A sad-faced stuffed dog with long arms is providing comfort to children caught in the middle of the war in Israel. This therapeutic program, created in 2006 for children facing trauma in Israel, is once again helping them cope with war. Hibuki  whose name comes from the Hebrew word for “hug”  was born during the Second Lebanon War through the efforts of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a longtime overseas partner of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. The Hibuki doll is actively at work again in Israel providing therapy to 10,000 traumatized children and equipping them with a sense of security and tools for healing. This is possible thanks to your support of the Israel Emergency Fund, which has raised more than $22 million since its October 7 launch. More than 90,000 dolls have also been deployed after other wars and natural disasters, including the tsunami in Japan, the war in Ukraine and the earthquake in Turkey.

More than 500 children who were recently evacuated from their southern communities, including Kibbutz Kissufim, one of the sites of Hamas’ deadly massacre, received Hibukis upon arrival at their temporary home in a hotel near the Dead Sea. “A child who is in distress cannot relate to a happy doll,” explained Dr. Shai Hen-Gal, Chief Psychologist of Amal Umever Program, who invented Hibuki. “A happy doll is a toy, but with a sad doll, the children feel that the doll is like themselves. The child projects their own feelings on the doll. Their anxiety and stress are now inside Hibuki. More than just projecting negative feelings on the doll, the goal is to encourage the kids to become caregivers of the doll and thus reduce their anxiety.”

Four-year-old Omri is already devoted to the doll he just received, promising to take care of him and give him food, water and “whatever else he wants.” When asked what makes his new friend so special, his tiny face lights up, still capable of a bright smile despite all the horrors he’s seen, and quickly answers, “He only likes to hug!”

Click here to watch a video of the children with their Hibukis.

Hibuki is just one of many ways your donation to Federation’s Israel Emergency Fund is making a difference in the lives of Israelis under fire right now. Click here to learn more.

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