September 14, 2014: Operation Embrace Delivers Pre-Rosh Hashanah Food Vouchers to 100 Families
With Operation Protective Edge only weeks behind us, Operation Embrace provided Pre-Rosh Hashanah food vouchers to 100 families in bordering cities with Gaza who witnessed the onslaught of rocket attacks. Each family received a gift of $100 to shop for the Jewish Holidays in a supermarket nearby. These gifts and visits gave individuals and families who suffer with PTSD a feeling of love and concern. Please view and read below how people, starting from as young as age 11 can make all the difference in helping people in need. Thank you to our donors and to our volunteers who traveled to Southern Israel in order to distribute the gifts. SHANA TOVA TO ALL OF OUR SUPPORTERS AND FRIENDS!
Ellian Koschitzky, age 11 (pictured on left) and her friends made personalized Rosh
Hashanah greeting cards that were distributed with every food voucher for families in
David Hudaly, is seen giving a personalized card with a Rosh Hashanah food gift
voucher to a woman who suffers with PTSD and who lives on a kibbutz that borders
with Gaza. Sarah Eisdorfer, (a soldier in the IDF) on far left, delivers Rosh Hashanah
food vouchers in Be'er Sheva.
Rhonda Mestel and Ellen Kronitz surround and
embrace a woman from Kiryat Malachi whose son
was killed by a rocket.
Sharon Hudaly, embraces a family who has
survived multiple rocket attacks and brings big smiles.
September 3, 2014: Operation Embrace Provides Immediate Respites for Survivors of Rocket Fire
Operation Embrace, in consulation with mental health professionals, is providing immediate respites to families in need living in cities in Southern Israel. 500,000 people have been the targets of over 4000 rocket and mortar fire in the last two months.
Although the "boom" of the rockets and the forewarning alarms have paused, survivors express feeling another "boom". It is the boom of feeling isolated and deserted. It was almost 14 years ago, when Michal, age 23, a double-leg amputee from a terror attack said "one day we are news headlines and the very next day we are forgotten." These powerful words inspired the formation of Operation Embrace as well as sustains its mission. We cannot drop people and assistance once the news cameras have left. The real needs are now, the trauma is palpable.
On August 27, close to 100 people from Ashdod, Sderot, Netivot, Be'er Sheva and Ashkelon arrived at the Orchid Hotel in Tel Aviv for a therapeutic respite. The respite consisted of a solidarity dinner; resiliency-skill based workshop with Dr. Ruby Rogal from Professor Mooli Lahad's International Stress Prevention Center; youth volunteers from Ra'anana entertained children so that parents could participate in the workshop and individuals and families were able to enjoy the beach. Each family was given a hand crafted quilt made with love, from the First Baptist Church in Boerne, Texas and Terry Mowszowski of Raanana. Operation Embrace is grateful to the generosity of the Nakash Family who worked with OE in making all of the arrangements at the Orchid Hotel.
On August 28, Sharon and David Hulady opened both their home and their hearts to 25 Sderot teens for an amazing day filled with activities and fun. From chocolate and pasta workshops with renowned chefs from the Dan Acadia Hotel in Herzylia, to personally designed tie-dye shirts, to jumping freely in a moon bounce, to dancing to the music of Eyal the DJ, to a relaxing swim in the pool to a delicious barbecue to folk singing, it was truly an amazing day! At the conclusion of this day, every teen was given a backpack with school supplies tucked inside. Operation Embrace is grateful to Sharon and David, Tali Kaplan, Ari Charnoff and all of the other many volunteers who made this day so meaningful for the teens from Sderot who have suffered so much. Please enjoy the images from this day.
These are not normal times and we must urgently support our "mishpacha" in Israel. They need us and we need you. Please consider sponsoring events like these.
August 22, 2014: Families from Southern Israel Enjoy a Magical Shabbat
As the Iron Dome intercepts thousands of deadly rockets intended to kill and terrorize Israeli civilians, Operation Embrace is serving as an emotional iron dome providing therapeutic intervention programs for families in Southern Israel who are completely traumatized.
Operation Embrace sponsored a two day therapeutic respite in Northern Israel at the CSPC - The International Stress Prevention Centre, under the directorship of world renowned trauma psychologist, Professor Mooli Lahad. Professor Lahad has developed the Integrative Model of Coping and Resiliency 'BASIC PH'. This treatment protocol, adopted by other practitioners worldwide focuses on people's natural coping mechanisms. This method enables people suffering with anxiety and trauma to reduce their symptoms either completely or to a manageable level and gives them the opportunity to regain a sense of control over their lives. With a generous grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Operation Embrace provided 20 families diagnosed with trauma and anxiety the opportunity to travel to the North, lodging and food for 2 nights, time for family fun at local attractions and resiliency workshops at the CSPC.
Operation Embrace in partnership with the Ohel Ari Synagogue in Raanana, helped organize an amazing Yom Kef (a therapeutic fun day) for 60 children from Southern Israel. Funds were raised from the Boca Raton Synagogue community and families from Raanana. The moment the children stepped off the bus, swarms of volunteers from Raanana embraced and greeted them and whisked them off from one activity to the next. The activities included cookie and cupcake decoration, sports activities, swimming, manicures and lots more. The day concluded with a barbecue, warm embraces and lots of exchanges of contact info. This was an incredible day for everyone and serves as a model for future therapeutic fun days.
Please view pictures below from these very special events. Perhaps the most profound feedback from the fun day in Raanana is the following picture of a message left by a child from Sderot:
These are not normal times and we must urgently support our "mishpacha" in Israel. They need us and we need you. Please consider sponsoring events like these.
IRON DOME EMOTIONAL SUPPORT - INTERCEPTING WITH SMILES: PHOTOS FROM 2 DAY RESPITE IN THE NORTH
PHOTOS FROM THE RAANANA YOM KEF - FUN DAY
August 8, 2014: Families from Southern Israel Enjoy a Magical Shabbat
In the midst of rocket alarms, over 150 people made their way to an Operation Embrace therapeutic sponsored shabbat on August 1 at the Blue Bay Hotel in Netanya. As families entered the hotel, they were greeted with warm smiles and big hugs from a reception of OE volunteers. While teen volunteers from Raanana organized activities for the children, Roni Gagin, director of social services at Rambam Hospital and trauma treatment specialist led a powerful workshop for parents. Michal Feldstein, OE social worker and coordinator in the South managed every aspect of the shabbat ensuring a guaranteed success. There were trivia contests, walks on the beach and most importantly families were able to sleep without the sounds of rocket sirens. When shabbat was coming to a close, each family was presented with a handmade quilt, donated by the First Baptist church in Bourne, Texas and completed by Terry Mowszowski and her team of quilters in Raanana. Thank you to everyone who made this shabbat experience so magnificent. This magical shabbat was only made possible due to the recent donations that have been coming in from our emergency campaign. Please take the time to read the testimonials and browse through pictures.
Operation Embrace provided transportation for families from Ashkelon, Sderot, Kiryat Malachi, Be'er Sheva and kibbutzim along the border with Gaza to catch their breath and enjoy a united shabbat together with OE volunteers from Raanana.
"The families could not thank us enough for everything and blessed OE, and especially Michal, with every conceivable blessing under the sun. The teens were great, the goodie bags were beautiful and the quilts are gorgeous."Vera Katz, OE Volunteer.
In the words of the families from the South: "Thank you for giving us moments of enjoyment, laughter, calm and inner peace while at the same time giving us the privilege to meet the most amazing people from Operation Embrace." -Avi and Limor"there are no words that can express the gratitude that I have for the most beautiful shabbat. Operation Embrace is giving me the support I need during this war, and it is a war no matter what name the media gives it. This is the second time that I have been injured and this shabbat gave me a chance to distance my soul from the sound of rocket fire. Thank you Operation Embrace for giving me the strength I need." -Yair
In the words of the volunteers: "We just got home from Netanya. Shabbat was really beautiful and we were honoured to be included. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of such a special weekend." -Tamar and Jono Koschitzky"While we have read a lot of the difficulties the residents of Sderot and vicinity experience to spend Shabbat with them and hear it from them and their kids and too see it on the faces was a huge eye opener .The Shabbat was amazing for these people and I heard from all of them how appreciative they were to Operation Embrace and to you for everything you have done and are doing."- Ellen and Emanuel Kronitz
An additional embrace: A mother and daughter from the South receive a handmade quilt. Please help us by sponsoring much needed therapeutic excursions and retreats and other emergency assistance.
August 4, 2014: Operation Embrace, Sticks for Kids and Ha'Poel Tel Aviv Partner and Give Children from Sderot a Day of Fun
With the constant barrage of rockets on Southern communities in Israel, children remain indoors feeling sad and hopeless. Operation Embrace, Sticks for Kids and Ha'poel Tel Aviv created a fun sports day, for children from Sderot to teach them how to play Lacrosse and play basketball. The goal is also that the children will increase their coping skills and their resiliency. In the middle of the sports clinic, a rocket siren was sounded. Despite the rocket alarm, the children were so happy to participate in the sports and were full of positive energy and smiles. They enjoyed learning lacrosse and basketball and competing in games. Stations included agility ladder, lacrosse passing, scooping, and cradling, and basketball dribbling and shooting.
July 22, 2014: Operation Embrace Assists Families in Southern Israel
OE is responding to requests from Bituach Leumi, Israel's National Health Insurance Agency to assist a variety of communities in Southern Israel.
OE is sponsoring many therapeutic retreats with Professor Mooli Lahad, world renowned expert in treating trauma and Director of the CSPC - The International Stress Prevention Centre located in Northern Israel. On these retreats, there will be resiliency training for parents and children. OE and the CSPC are creating a model for dealing with the current crisis.
OE's social worker, Michal Feldstein is on the ground making numerous home visits everyday to assess and respond to immediate needs.
This picture shows children living in a shelter in Southern Israel. They are shown receiving the first toys from a very successful toy drive in Raanana, organized by Tamar Rubinstein-Koscitzky.
This home took a direct hit from a rocket yesterday and it destroyed everything this family had. This is a view from what was the kitchen. OE is providing temporary housing and financial assistance for this family.
Just some of the toys and books provided by the OE toy drive in Raanana.
July 14, 2014: Operation Embrace at Work in Southern Israel
Operation Embrace is receiving constant requests for assistance. OE is in ongoing contact with local mental health professionals and is responding to immediate needs.
Today, OE coordinated a visit to Sderot for Ambassador Michael Oren. He was escorted by OE's social worker, Michal Feldstein. In between interviews with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Ambassador Oren and Michal visited with a man whose home was destroyed by a rocket. See below for images of today's activities.
In addition, here are some examples of OE assistance:
Toy drive in Raanana - Tamar Rubenstein-Koschitzky in conjunction with OE organized a toy drive for children in the South who are spending long stretches of time in shelters. The response was overwhelming and OE arranged for the transportation.
Bituach Leumi, Israel's National Health Insurance Agency turned to OE for immediate assistance in sending families in Ashkelon and Be'er Sheva, who are being treated for severe trauma to respite locations.
Families whose homes have been destroyed have received financial assistance for basic needs such as food, clothing and transportation. Please consider a donating today.
July 9, 2014: A letter from OE's Executive Director
Dear Friends of Operation Embrace,
I just finished speaking with Alon Davidi, the Mayor of Sderot. His offices are closed and he and his staff are working from a bomb shelter. The people in Sderot are in great distress and suffering from acute anxiety.
One of the Mayor's goals, is to create a sense of strength and resiliency amongst the residents of Sderot. He prefers that funds not be currently used to take people out of Sderot. However, when calm returns, he would like Operation Embrace to create therapeutic excursions and retreats for families to help them in their rehabilitation from the ongoing barrage of rockets and the constant sound of sirens.
There is an increasing number of families whose homes have been destroyed and they have been relocated to temporary dwellings. These families will need to rebuild their lives from scratch. Operation Embrace is preparing to assist these families move forward. In addition, the mayor is providing Operation Embrace with a list of basic needs including clothes, shoes, eyeglasses, toys, food, bottled water and more.
Yehuda, whose home was destroyed a few years ago by rockets, commented to Michal, our social worker, "I can't take it anymore, I am here with my wife and four children in the bomb shelter. We are here all day day and if we go out, we run like rabbits to get what we need and then rush back to the shelter."
Yardena, commented; "every time there is a tzeva adom (siren), my son gets a bloody nose.....it is so hard to be isolated in our shelter."
Shalom, commented; "I try to be strong for my son, but I can't any longer....I'm falling apart."
Operation Embrace is an organization that helps people victimized by terror. There are tens of thousands of people in Israel right now who are living with this terror. We have much work to do. We must provide a vast array of services with the guidance and the advice of the professionals on the ground. They are the eyes, ears and hearts of all the good that we want to do. Please donate and click the link below, so that we can be there to help our brothers and sisters in Israel when they need us the most: DONATE NOW
With gratitude and appreciation,
July 2, 2014: All Of Us Lost Three Boys Today
On June 12, three Israeli teens were abducted and today, July 1, they were buried. This past Sunday, on June 29, I attended a massive rally at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv where there was so much solidarity and hope, only to learn that the very next day there was so much solidarity, pain and despair.
Below are excerpts from the New York Times that give us a little taste of each teen. May we continue to remember their names, their faces and the their accomplishments. Although we may not have known them personally, we know them, they are our children too.
If you would like to write words of comfort, strength and support to their families, please do so and send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will make sure that your words are delivered. Operation Embrace is reaching out to the professionals, who are working with the families and together will search for ways to offer comfort and support to the bereaved families. Thank you for your continued support.
(Pictured from left to right)
Naftali Fraenkel, 16, was born in Nof Ayalon (son of Rachel & Avi)
His mother, Rachel said Naftali, the second of seven children, loved playing basketball and the guitar, fought with his sisters and had a “cynical sense of humor.” His maternal grandparents emigrated to Israel from New York in the 1950s, and he held joint Israeli and American citizenship. According to Israel's Channel 10 Nana website, Naftali and Gilad Shaar recently returned from a two-day class trip in which they participated in a human-pyramid contest and won first prize.
Gilad Shaar, 16, was from Talmon (son of Bat-Galim & Ofir)
He was a leader in Bnei Akiva, a popular religious youth movement, and his friends and family said he was an avid baker. According to Ynet, Gilad’s great-uncle was killed fighting in the 1982 war with Lebanon, and though his family wanted Gilad to buried in a military cemetery, their request was denied.
Eyal Yifrach, 19, was from Elad. (son of Iris & Ori)
Yitzhak Daboul, a friend of Eyal's family, told the Israeli news website Ynet that Eyal was “the father of all kids in the neighborhood,” who always did the right thing. According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Eyal, who had been in a pre-military program, began studying at the Shavei Hevron yeshiva less than two months after a friend who studied there died in car accident.
Up To Date Reporting
October 13, 2015: Israel needs our support now!