The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) once again reactivated its Shalosh Regalim Campaign to provide holiday provisions to the former residents of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron who were expelled from their homes in August 2005. Five years after they were forced out of their homes, many of the former families of Gush Katif are still living in temporary quarters, do not yet have jobs, and are struggling every single day to put food on their tables and make ends meet.
After learning that many families were in desperate need of food for Rosh Hashanah, the NCYI accelerated the distribution schedule and helped deliver more than $100,000 in food to the families of Gush Katif before the Jewish New Year. The latest distribution brought the total amount of money collected by the Young Israel Movement to purchase much-needed holiday provisions for the former residents of Gush Katif to more than $1 million since the disengagement.
The National Council of Young Israel initially embarked on its food distribution campaign before Sukkot 2007. Since that time, working together with the International Young Israel Movement – Israel Region, the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel (“CYIR”), and in conjunction with the Yad Ezra Relief Organization of Israel, the NCYI has provided countess truckloads of food to the families who had been evacuated from Gush Katif. With the help of Eugen and Jean Gluck of Forest Hills, Queens, and many shuls and individuals who made financial contributions, the National Council of Young Israel has been able to deliver food to over 1,000 families.
“The Young Israel’s Shalosh Regalim Campaign has transformed the lives of so many families who otherwise would not have been able to bring the joy of the holiday into their homes,” said NCYI Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “The disengagement left people without homes, without jobs, and without the ability to support their families as they had done in the past. We are doing our best to let the families of Gush Katif know that we have not forgotten them and that we continue to stand together with them as they attempt to recapture the lives that they once led.”
“We go week to week without knowing for certain if we will have enough food to feed our families, and we hope and pray that we will have food to put on our table when Yom Tov comes,” said Doron Eliyahu, a current resident of Nitzan who lived in Gush Katif for many years. “The Young Israel project provides us with meat, fish, oil, canned goods, fruits and vegetables, goodies for the children, and even wine – everything we need to celebrate the holiday properly. They are providing for people in need and their efforts make the holiday joyous and special, as evidenced by the happiness that is apparent on the faces of all the people that benefit from their tzedakah. What they are doing for us is simply spectacular.”
According to Meital Lewin, a volunteer for the local community who helps pack food for the former families of Gush Katif, the people who help distribute the food benefit nearly as much as those people who receive the food.
“There are a lot of people who do not have enough food to put on their table who desperately need everything that we are able to give them,” said Lewin. “This effort gives a lot of happiness to a lot of people. There is no end to the work but it is worth it. If people knew how much happiness it caused, they would certainly help and get involved too.”
Individuals and shuls who are interested in helping the families of Gush Katif are encouraged to get involved in this important effort. Contributions should be made payable to “Young Israel Charities – Shalosh Regalim Campaign” and mailed to the National Council of Young Israel, 111 John Street, Suite 450, New York, New York, 10038. Donations can also be made online at www.youngisrael.org (simply click on “Donate” and select “Gush Katif Shalosh Regalim Campaign”).
For more information about the Young Israel’s Gush Katif Shalosh Regalim Campaign and to learn how you can help, call 212-929-1525 x100 or go to http://www.youngisrael.org/content/gk.cfm.