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May 1, 2024

Federation Partnering With Israeli Kibbutz Impacted by 10/7

As communities across Israel struggle to recover from Hamas’ brutal terrorist attacks of October 7, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is partnering with one affected kibbutz to provide vital financial and emotional support. Our Federation is working with Or HaNer, a privatized kibbutz of a little more than 1,000 people located less than 2.5 miles from the Gaza border, as part of the Communities2Gether (C2G) program. Over three years, Federation will allocate a total of $750,000 from the Israel Emergency Fund to help residents heal from the economic and physical losses and trauma of that horrible day. The funds will not replace those from the Israeli government or other sources, but will complement them.

The effort is spearheaded by Federation’s overseas partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel, which is bringing together representatives of an impacted Israeli community, a diaspora community and The Jewish Agency through its C2G program. The group will work together to help meet the needs of the community, create a plan for rebuilding and determine how funds will be distributed. Miami’s C2G partnership is being chaired by Federation Board members Rich Bernstein and Mytyl Simancas-Bister and is being overseen by Federation’s Israel and Overseas Committee.

Or HaNer is one of 11 communities within the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, established in 1957 by approximately 50 members of the Ichud Habonim youth movement from Argentina and Uruguay. As one of the largest communities in the western Negev, it has a current population that is 36 percent young adults and 34 percent children under age 18. More than 200 residents, including children, speak Spanish.

Before 10/7, the kibbutz’s main income came from agriculture (fields, citrus, cattle, poultry and a carrot-sorting factory), small private businesses (including a catering company) and a local factory that makes advanced fastening products. However, due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, the community has not been able to access all the agricultural areas.

Fortunately, no one was murdered or kidnapped from the kibbutz on October 7 due to the immediate response by the volunteer local security team. However, several were injured — among them volunteer fighters who also assisted the neighboring kibbutz, Erez, and a young woman who was shot at the Tribe of Nova Music Festival. All are now undergoing rehabilitation.

Additionally, public buildings and homes suffered direct hits and residents witnessed all the chaos, sirens, gunshots and sounds of terrorists nearby. Many have family and friends who were murdered or kidnapped from close-by kibbutzim. Adding to the terror were WhatsApp notices of friends and families being hurt, and long hours being locked in safe rooms until being rescued out of the area.

Following the events of October 7, the individuals and families who lived at Or HaNer were evacuated to hotels in Jerusalem, where they established a community engagement system and educational and welfare services for the evacuees. After a communal process, they decided to return home and rebuild their lives. As of March, more than 60 percent had already returned, with the remainder expected to rejoin the community during the summer. Or HaNer is the first kibbutz close to the Gaza border to make this decision, despite the ongoing war.

With all that has happened, the community’s need for support and rehabilitation is great, and our Federation’s Israel and Overseas Committee is committed to helping them in any way necessary. Or HaNer’s leadership emphasize the need for professionals to manage the community; formal education and social frameworks for youth at risk and the elderly; local communal rehabilitative culture activities; resilience and emotional relief and economic development support.

Since the C2G program was created, more than 30 Israeli-diaspora partnerships have been formed. To learn more about the C2G partnership, contact Israel and Overseas Director Dahlia Bendavid at [email protected]. You can also visit the Kibbutz Or HaNer website here.

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