Community conference call with Israel

Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. on the west coast, we held our first-ever community conference call with Israel.  The call gave Bay Area folks the chance to hear directly from our partners in the south of Israel most affected by the recent conflict.  If you missed the call, you can either download it to your desktop or simply use the player below to listen to it.

Community members called in from as far away as Hawaii. We heard from Shmuel Yilma, an Ethiopian Jew living in Be'er Sheva involved with the Atzmaut program we support; Shlomzion Cohen, a teacher in a local elementary school in Kibbutz Mefalsim and involved with a variety of programs we support; and Vivian Silver, Director of NISPED in Be'er Sheva, where we support their Year of Joint Volunteering for Bedouin-Arab and Jewish youth as well as other programs of theirs. We heard about the impact our programs are having in helping these communities respond to eight years of rockets and three weeks of war. We heard about the conflict in a teacher who is also a mother.  Should she stay with her students and be strong for them while the rockets are falling, or run home to take care of her young children? We heard how the entire Ethiopian community in Sderot rallied together in the center we support, and how our program is the only program that offers therapy in their native Amharic. We heard about Jews and Arabs under rocket fire sheltering together, and while they each have a different narrative about what's going on, the work there is to continue to build a shared society for all. And finally, we heard very clearly that we were the only Federation, the only agency, who came and asked these people what they needed. We heard how these communities, although faced with many difficulties, are coming out of this situation with renewed hope. 

And the final message from Israel - "You (in San Francisco) should feel very proud of the work you're doing here." This was a learning experience for us, and we apologize both for the dead air time in the beginning of the call while we got the technology to work, and to those of you who called in and were unable to get through because all the lines were taken. We welcome your feedback - if you were on the call,  if you tried but couldn't get on, and if you're just listening now. Email with your comments and suggestions. Lastly, if you wish to learn more about our programs in southern Israel or if you wish to donate to them directly, please visit

Categories: Events, Israel


January 22, 2009


The Federation