Rosh Hashanah Update 5769
Distributing backpacks in Sderot for Rosh Hashanah – Sept. 14, 2008
Dear Friends of Operation Embrace,
As we approach the High Holidays which represent new beginnings, it is important to first review the accomplishments of Operation Embrace (OE). Just like Rosh Hashanah, Operation Embrace is all about helping people begin anew. Because of your continued generosity, Operation Embrace has helped over 1,200 adults and children throughout this past year.
OE’s efforts include sponsoring the Foxman Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Empowerment program at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, and a trauma support group at Hadassah Hospital, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem. We continue to focus much of our energies on Sderot which has been the target of continuing Kassam rocket attacks. OE Volunteers assembled and delivered 400 Purim baskets, sponsored a therapeutic Shab bat weekend and provided transportation for 300 children to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day. We partnered with the Elie Wiesel Foundation in funding a summer camp experience for Ethiopian children suffering with trauma, and coordinated bnei mitzvah (tikun olam) projects – including delivering food items for Passover and backpacks filled with school supplies for the New Year. In addition, Operation Embrace continues to provide direct financial assistance to help the injured find new direction and meaning in their lives.
We are excited to announce that the Israeli government has recognized Operation Embrace as a leading non-profit organization in assisting survivors of terror and OE is now part of the National Service Program (Sherut Leumi). With great p ride we welcome Erica Jacoby, a young woman from Ra’anana, who will fulfill her national service as OE’s representative.
Currently, many families in Sderot are suffering financially from the effects of Kassam rocket attacks. Our fundraising efforts for the coming year will attempt to fill the gap between government institutional grants and what is needed. For a $5,000 contribution, you can assist a family for one year.
Example of Family in Sderot in Need: Colette – mother of 3 – was taking a shower when a Kassam rocket landed in her bathroom. She sustained shrapnel in her head, legs and spine. She has gone through many surgeries. This family needs financial assistance to help with the basic day to day needs.
Please keep those who continue to suffer, as well as those who have been killed by the barbaric acts of terror close to your heart. Let us pray that there will be peace, healing and recovery in Israel and all over the world.
May you and your family have your dreams fulfilled and your goals realized and may you be inscribed for a healthy, happy and meaningful New Year.
With gratitude and appreciation,
Aviva Tessler and the Operation Embrace Team Executive Director
Operation Embrace Partners with the Elie Wiesel Foundation
Operation Embrace has partnered with the Elie Wiesel Foundation in sponsoring 23 Ethiopian children from Sderot to attend the Beit Tziporah summer camp in Ashkelon (15 minutes from Sderot). Beit Tziporah, is funded by the Elie Wiesel Foundation to help Ethiopian children. It is named after
Elie Wiesel’s sister who was killed in Auschwitz. The Ethiopian community in Sderot has suffered greatly from the fall of Kassam rockets, killing several children, and injuring many. Here are some of the pictures from the children in Sderot who are enjoying summer camp at Beit Tziporah.
The Jewish Voice and Opinion – December 2007
Operation Embrace Gives Financial and Emotional Support to Israeli Victims of Arab Terror
By Betty Schwartz
In 2001, Aviva Tessler went to Israel to enjoy a sabbatical with her husband, Rabbi Joel Tessler, of Congregation Beth Sholom in Potomac, Maryland. She planned to enjoy a leisurely vacation during which she would write a book with her husband on topics dealing with psychology and Judaism. Instead, Mrs. Tessler started a new chapter in her life, helping victims of terror cope, and even thrive, in their post-terror lives.
While she was in Israel, the raging Intifada was already claiming hundreds of Jewish victims of Arab terror, and Mrs. Tessler began visiting the victims in Israeli hospitals. She assumed the patients would appreciate a quick hello with sincere wishes for a speedy recovery and then welcome a return to their privacy. But the patients she visited begged her to stay and keep in touch after she left.
“The first day, we’re headlines; three months later we’re forgotten,” a 22 year old patient lamented.
Filling the Gap
Mrs. Tessler learned that there is often a large gap in time between the initial care a patient receives after an attack and financial support from Bituach Leumi, Israel’s National Insurance Agency. During that time, emotional support dwindles as well.
Determined to help, Mrs. Tessler returned from that first trip and bought a laptop computer for a girl who was one of the victims. It was a lifeline for the injured student who could then continue her studies.
For Mrs. Tessler, it was the beginning of countlesshours spent raising money and visiting Israel to help terror victims recover from their ordeal. With the help of three Maryland friends, Anne Clemons, Jocelyn Krifcher, and Avivah Litan, Operation Embrace was born.
Last month, Mrs. Tessler relayed these and other stories at a dessert reception and fundraising event in Englewood for Operation Embrace, now a 501c(3) nonprofit tax exempt organization. She came at the urging of her long-time friend and former Stern College classmate, Miriam Stiefel, who agreed to co-chair the Englewood event along with Anna Ostro, another Stern College alumna and enthusiastic Operation Embrace supporter.
While the thrust of Operation Embrace’s support is financial, the friendship and caring of volunteers make an important contribution to the patients’ well being. Avi Tabib, an Israeli terror victim, was at the Englewood reception to share his story of terror, survival, and recovery, thanks in no small measure to the help he received from Operation Embrace.
In the spring of 2003, Mr. Tabib, a student, was working as a security guard at Mike’s Place, a popular Tel Aviv nightclub which had caught the attention of Jack Baxter, a film producer who was in the Jewish state
making a documentary on how Israelis survived in an atmosphere of imminent terror. Taken with the camaraderie, international flavor, and relaxed atmosphere in Mike’s Place, Mr. Baxter had decided to use the club in the documentary.
On the night of April 30, 2003, Mr. Baxter was inside the club and Mr. Tabib was at the door. Trained to recognize suspicious behavior, Mr. Tabib quickly noticed two men with “nervous body language and crazy eyes”— the hallmarks of would-be terrorists—coming towards the club.
When Mr. Tabib denied them entrance, one fled. The other, however, detonated his explosives outside the club. Three people were killed and several were critically injured, including Messrs Tabib and Baxter. In Israel, it was recognized that the number of casualties would have been much higher had the terrorists gained entrance to the club. Mr. Tabib’s actions saved lives.
Changing the Story
At the Englewood event, Mr. Tabib discussed the ways in which Operation Embrace has helped him regain his health and his life, although he still needs medical treatment. He has since married and fathered a baby son whom he named Maoz after the pasuk in Tehillim #27 that he recites daily.
“A new Jewish life is the best revenge on terrorists,” he said proudly.
After the terrorist attack on Mike’s Place, Mr. Baxter’s film changed from a story of how Israelis cope with terror to an on-the-scene account of what happens during a terror attack. The completed film, “Blues on the Beach,” has won several prestigious awards and is being shown at synagogues and organizations throughout the US.
At the Englewood event, Operation Embrace managed a surprise for Mr. Tabib. The organization had arranged for Mr. Baxter to make an impromptu visit to see his Israeli friend who had saved his life during the attack. At the event, Mr. Baxter discussed his filmand emotionally thanked Mr. Tabib for his bravery that night at Mike’s Place.
Direct Financial Aid
Mrs. Tessler emphasized that Operation Embrace relies on professionals to help them choose beneficiaries and give From left, Jack and Fran Baxter and Avi Tabib Page – 30 The Jewish Voice and Opinion December 2007 Tell Our Advertisers “I Saw It in The Jewish Voice & Opinion” the right kind of support. The organization partners with Bituach Leumi as well a with social workers throughout the Jewish State to identify and assist victims of terror and their families.
Since 2001, Operation Embrace’s activities have included direct financial assistance to thousands of individuals and their families, including those in the north who were targets of Hezbollah’s Katyushas in the summer 2006 war with Lebanon, and in Sderot, where the residents live with continuing rocket attacks from Gaza.
Operation Embrace has contributed funds for medical care, rehabilitation, dental restoration, transportation, tuition for education, and a wide range of services that Israeli national insurance doesn’t cover. The group has purchased hundreds of laptop computers for students to help them continue their studies and stay connected to the outside world. They also give financial assistance to hospitals for trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling.