The Rev. D. Brian Horgan of St. Lucy Catholic Church and Steven Moss, rabbi to Temple Sinai of Palm Beach County in Delray Beach, united for a prayer vigil on Oct. 12 at St. Lucy in Highland Beach. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Janis Fontaine
When Americans see something, they want to do something, especially when innocent children are involved.
Our first inclination is to donate cash, but how do we get the money to the people who really need it?
“We will visit soldiers in the army, wounded in the hospitals, families in mourning. Our goal is to inspire and uplift. To send a message to Israelis that we in the diaspora stand with them,” New wrote on Chabad’s website last month.
The group planned to “distribute funds to families in need” and offer “programs to help soldiers and victims of terror.”
Chabad’s network of local groups communicates directly with friends and family in Israel. That allows congregations like Rabbi Shmuli Biston’s Chabad East Delray to fulfill specific needs for medical supplies, food or clothing. Biston said it doesn’t matter what you give but that you give freely.
Do those pronouncements of people standing in solidarity help? Yes, Biston says, you’re not wasting your time. The Jewish community wants and needs your support. “It’s very meaningful to hear that others share our grief,” he said.
But what about the Christians and Muslims who live in Gaza? How do we support innocent children? What about the children of Hamas? Is it right to leave them to die for the sins of their fathers?
Almost everyone condemns Hamas’ attack on Israel. But what about the Palestinians who have been trying to scratch out a life in the barricaded Gaza Strip for decades? Now they’re collateral damage in a conflict that cannot be won. So how do we help them?
“The sad thing is the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza is killing civilians, not soldiers,” said Mahmoud Elghewisky, the executive director of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton.
It’s just one of the contradictions he sees. “Why are Ukrainians who are fighting for their homes seen as freedom fighters, but Palestinians are seen as terrorists?” he asks.
The border choke-holds by government troops, both Israeli and Egyptian in the South, are preventing sufficient aid from reaching the people.
The military argues that any aid sent into Gaza for women, children and the elderly will be stolen by Hamas to support its fighters. The Israeli military wants the citizens to evacuate. But they’re too poor to leave and too afraid to venture out. A slow death by starvation or for lack of medical care is all the future they can see.
Whomever you want to help, money is the quickest and easiest way of showing support.
Where to help locally
Rabbi New, Chabad Boca Beaches. Support Rabbi New here: www.chabadbocabeaches.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/6130621/jewish/Help-Israel.htm.
Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County’s Israel Emergency Fund: www.jewishboca.org/israel-at-war-donations. If you have any questions or concerns about your donation, contact Marc Fishman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561-852-3169.
The Islamic Center of Boca Raton: The Islamic Center is hosting an open house Dec. 1 for anyone who has questions about Islam. The center is at 3480 NW Fifth Ave. 561-395-7221 or www.icbr.org.
Other charities to consider
NPR.org and Fortune.com vetted a list of reliable charities and organizations that include:
Anera: It addresses the development and relief needs of refugees and others hurt by conflicts in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan. It’s working to provide humanitarian relief to Palestinians and residents of East Jerusalem. It received a 92% score on Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that evaluates other nonprofits. www.anera.org
Doctors Without Borders: This international group brings emergency medical care where it’s most needed. DWB received a 98% score from Charity Navigator. www.doctorswithoutborders.org
International Committee of the Red Cross: ICRC partners with chapters of the Red Cross and Red Crescent so its neutral workers can visit detainees in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. www.icrc.org
International Rescue Committee: It works in more than 40 countries to help people affected by humanitarian crises, in the short and long term. Regarding Gaza, the organization says it is “assessing needs on the ground and our capacity to ensure critical, life-saving humanitarian relief reaches affected civilian populations.” Its Charity Navigator score is 91%. www.rescue.org
IsraAID: This global NGO, based in Tel Aviv, claims it is housing evacuees from Gaza, operating child-friendly spaces where kids can play and process, and distributing resilience kits to families. Its Charity Navigator score is 95%. www.israaid.org
American Friends of Magen David Adom: This is Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service — the equivalent of a Red Cross. It says donations will be used to make sure responders and volunteers have all the training, equipment and medical supplies (including blood) to treat injured people. Charity Navigator: 100%. www.afmda.org
Medical Aid for Palestinians: This group is responding to the emergency in Gaza by providing essential drugs, disposables and other health care supplies to hospitals struggling to cope with an influx of serious injuries. www.map.org.uk
Islamic Relief USA: Middle East/Palestine: In addition to calling for a cease-fire, the IRUSA says, “All parties have a duty to protect civilians from harm, avoid targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and humanitarian facilities, and ensure that civilians have access to basic necessities such as water, food and power.” www.irusa.org/middle-east/palestine
Middle East Children’s Alliance: This nonprofit dedicated to children’s rights in the Middle East supports dozens of communities with Palestinian children. It is procuring medical supplies for hospitals as well as providing emergency assistance to families who have fled their homes. Its Charity Navigator score is 100%. www.mecaforpeace.org
Palestine Children’s Relief Fund: PCRF provides medical and humanitarian relief to Arab children, regardless of nationality or religion, and has had a presence in Gaza for 30 years. Its donations provide access to medical care, mental health support and essential supplies for kids in Gaza. Its Charity Navigator score is 97%. www.pcrf.net
Palestine Red Crescent Society: PRCS was founded in 1968 as a humanitarian organization that is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It provides hospital, emergency medicine and ambulance services, and primary health care centers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. www.palestinercs.org/en
Save the Children: This NGO, founded after World War I, is committed to protecting and assisting children in Gaza and Israel and working to renegotiate humanitarian corridors. It received a 97% score from Charity Navigator. www.savethechildren.org
UNICEF: Established by the UN after World War II, UNICEF says it has staff in Gaza delivering support. UNICEF received a 92% score from Charity Navigator. www.unicefusa.org
UNRWA: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was established by the UN to provide direct relief programs for Palestinian refugees. Since Oct. 7, it claims that more than 270,000 refugees have populated its shelters. www.unrwa.org
The Carter Center, founded by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University has been promoting peace and a viable two-state Israel-Palestine solution since 1982. www.cartercenter.org
Zakat Foundation of America: Founded in 2001, it is dedicated to alleviating the immediate needs of the poorest communities by providing food, shelter, health care and delivering emergency relief. Charity Navigator score: 100%. www.zakat.org
Life for Relief and Development: This global organization dedicates itself to alleviating human suffering around the world regardless of race, color, religion, or cultural background. It was founded in 1992 by Arab American professionals in response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Iraq as a result of the 1990-91 Gulf War conflict. www.lifeusa.org
Islamic Relief USA: It provides relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Organized in 1993 in California. www.irusa.org
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development: This group is dedicated to alleviating human suffering and supporting individuals and their communities in their efforts to become more self-sufficient. Mercy-USA’s projects focus on improving health, nutrition and access to safe water, as well as promoting economic and educational growth and providing disaster relief around the world. www.mercyusa.org