Israel Help Needed – Five Wartime Proposals from The Schechter Institutes, Inc.

Dear Friend,

Hoping this message finds you & the family OK given the circumstances. We in Israel are as OK as we can possibly be right now.  Rachel, our middle kid, is in a pre-army program right now but thankfully she drafts in one year and will not be on the frontlines. Two Fridays ago, we attended two consecutive funerals — and were supposed to attend a third.  Two of three were murdered in the massacre at the music festival in the Negev.  And one of the kids grew up with my kids.  Another kid who grew up with my kids is now a hostage in Gaza (Hersh Goldberg-Polin). Devastation all around us — 

All very painful here and yet, I am also seeing the best of humanity as the country pulls together to support displaced families from Israel’s South — and our soldiers in the North & South of the country.  My wife, Nadia, has been spending her days and nights collecting much needed items to help these people.  I have been working on an emergency campaign — raising funds for a number of urgent projects we are doing now.  I am now reaching out personally to ask for your help.  Our dear colleagues Philip Weintraub, David Englander, Debbie Wechsler and Alexander Davis responded generously and I am hoping I can get you on board with this effort as well.  

And as I write this note, I am sitting in a bomb shelter at The Schechter Institutes, Jerusalem. 

Many have reached out to me and asked if there is any special way they can help support us as we pull through this tragic time in Israel. 

Like many other Israeli institutions, our staff and faculty have been working overtime — to support our students, our colleagues and the country.  Our donors and friends in North America have been extraordinary in responding to the nightmare that we are all living through, and we are appealing to you now to help us raise $125,000 that will help in several targeted and meaningful ways, including the following (below is a brief digest and attached you can find a fuller explanation of each project):

  1. Helping the City of Ofakim. Ofakim was one of the towns attacked by the terrorists on October 7th, where they murdered 51 people, mostly in one specific poor neighborhood. They need money to help the families of the 51 victims, to help the families of at least 40 people injured, to help at least 9 families whose homes were damaged and to help many people who are in shock.  We are seeking to raise a total of $29,000 for the people of Ofakim.
  1. Our remarkable Marpeh Program(which has been training chaplains to serve in hospitals & other organizations) staff and alumni, has established a 24 hour hotline, for emotional supportto families.  Funds to support the staff and related expenses to maintain this hotline: $15,600 will enable us to run this hotline for the first three months.
  2. Our TALI Educational Fund staff is working overtime to support its 65,000 students all over the country. Though the Ministry of Education has halted in-school instruction, we are providing financial support to schools, administrators, and teachers around the country to continue their connections and interactions with students – an essential lifeline and community embrace.  Funds required for these additional efforts to support TALI schools and personnel (through special programming, curricula and gatherings): $20,310.
  3. A remarkable group of Schechter Rabbinical Seminarystudents are working to strengthen the rabbinic presence on the homefrontand to address issues related to burial and Jewish laws of mourning.  As you may have heard, Israeli cemeteries are having difficulty keeping up with the overwhelming number of burials.  Additionally, volunteers have been organized to dig graves and assist with other logistics and practicalities.  We are establishing this framework to be there for families who need religious guidance and spiritual support through this time.  Funds needed to support this sad but necessary effort: $22,560 for the first three months.
  4. Relief for young Russian and Ukrainian new immigrants At Neve Schechter we have a cohort which includes fifteen Russian and Ukrainian speaking artists who arrived in Israel as new immigrants this past year. The program was created to help this population, who has been hit by the war in Ukraine, have a better integration to Israeli life. This group has been especially hit by the current war in Israel, as new immigrants with little or no family in the country, and as young artists many without a steady income.  Funds needed for assistance: $26,250.

Please consider a gift either to wholly fund one of the above projects or to generously support our efforts.

I ask that if you would like to underwrite one of these projects, please be in touch with me as soon as possible.

You can make your gift here:

What is most needed right now — of the $30,000 The Schechter Institutes is seeking to raise for assisting the southern Israeli town of Ofakim, we have received $5,000.  I am now aiming to raise the other $25,000 within the first part of this week.  $1800 or 2500 gifts are most appreciated.  Or anything you can do!

Thank you for your love and extra generous support at this time.  Whatever you can do Ellen would be so appreciated.

And if you could please forward to your circle of Israel supporting friends/congregants, I would so appreciate it.
Sending love from Israel . . .may we know better days ahead.


Rabbi Matthew Berkowitz                            הרב מאט ברקוביץ

Vice President, The Schechter Institutes, Inc.    סגן הנשיא לשוחרי עמותות שכטר

4 Avraham Granot St. P.O.B. 3501, Jerusalem 9634346 Israel

Tel: 972-54-942-2990 Fax: 972-2-679-1453