Fishka Lightens the Burden of Israel’s Hardest Hit Communities

Fishka, one of our grantees in Israel, is a community-based learning organization for young Russian-speaking people. Like many of our grantees mentioned in our previous post on Operation Protective Edge, Fishka’s community members have been leading the way in Israel during these difficult weeks with social initiatives that have lightened the burden of many of Israel’s hardest hit communities in the South.

The organization took to a quick round of crowdfunding two weeks ago, and raised approximately 12,000 shekels in a single week, with about a fourth of donations coming from the Russian-speaking communities in San Francisco and New York (The Schusterman Family Foundation also matched some of these donations with 2,000 shekels).

Fishka members were quick to channel all funds to various initiatives:

  • Care packages for soldiers on the ground in Gaza. Fishka members had direct contact with soldiers who requested various items (t-shirts, socks, toiletries, etc).
  • Organized activity day for residents of hard-hit Ashkelon. Ashkelon is a mere 22 miles from Gaza, and has been a constant target for Hamas. During Operation Protective Edge, residents who could temporarily relocate to friends and family in other parts of the country were quick to do so. Those who stayed, for the most part, belonged to vulnerable populations like single-parent families, new immigrants, and the elderly. Fishka bused some of these trapped residents to Tel Aviv and Holon for a day of respite from the sirens and their bomb shelters. Families were treated to a day in Holon’s Children Museum, and ice-skating in Tel Aviv. Another such fun-day is planned for additional Ashkelon residents who have been stranded in their homes all summer long.
  • Organized visits to Senior Homes in the South. For the elderly living in the siren-filled South, the last month has been full of depression, fear and loneliness, with little respite. When Fishka heard of their most difficult plight, members set out to make a difference for the seniors in Ofakim. Volunteers ascended on a senior home and spent the afternoon playing chess with the residents, singing and dancing together with live musicians, and, most importantly, they listened. The volunteers came not only to entertain the residents, but also to pamper them with massages, manicures and pedicures, and even allocated funds to hire local cosmeticians who have been without work since the beginning of the Operation. Before leaving Ofakim, Fishka arranged for care packages for each of the senior residents, assembled by a struggling local market in the area. The visit was such a huge success for all – the elderly and Fishka members alike – that they have decided to make a similar visit to a senior home in Be'er Sheva.

Children in Ashkelon participating in the activity day.
Photo via ynet.

We are proud to support organizations like Fishka, which are putting themselves on the frontline and tending to vulnerable populations, especially in times of great need. These efforts were made possible by the generosity of many, including the Russian Jewish Community of San Francisco. You can find photos of these initiatives on their Facebook page. A Hebrew article describing their efforts was published recently on ynet.

Our thoughts are with the people of Israel as we pray for peace and security. Our on-the-ground team in Israel will keep you updated as the situation evolves. Learn more about our Bay Area Russian Jewish Community and donate to the Stop the Sirens Emergency Fund.


August 08, 2014