Support and Solidarity in This Time of Crisis

In recent weeks, the horrifying reality of October 7’s sexual assaults has unfolded before our eyes. Brave women, stepping forward to share their harrowing stories with police and therapists, have shed light on the unrelenting terror instilled by these brutal acts. The scars run deep as we grapple with the scale and cruelty of these incidents.

Being part of a federation that supports women unconditionally—especially in the face of grave physical and emotional danger—holds profound meaning for me.

Through my involvement with Shaharit on the “Shahar-Mini grant program,” I became acquainted with MASLAN – the Negev’s Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Support Center. From Kiryat Gat to Eilat, MASLAN provides crucial support to survivors, managing over 150 cases, including 92 related to the October 7 massacre. They are at the forefront, addressing the profound impact of the war on individuals and families dealing with unimaginable sexual trauma.

I felt compelled to visit Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, to connect with the families who were gathered there. Beit Tfila Israeli (a past Federation grantee), arranged for me to spend Kabbalat Shabbat (Reception of the Sabbath) with them, enabling me to listen to stories of their loved ones and share in their struggles.

I was grateful to meet Galit Yitzhaki, a specialist in counseling families coping with missing loved ones. With the Federation’s support, she has established a training center for therapists at the Institute for Research and Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College. Her program aims to prepare 1,000 professionals through 50 sessions, making a significant impact on the emotional recovery of both returned hostages and the families of those still captured or missing. The Israeli government and the families of hostages rely on her services—which have proven instrumental in hostage recovery efforts.

Galit Ithaki at the training center she founded to train therapists to help hostages and their families

I also connected with Lo Omdot Me'Negged, an organization dedicated to assisting women survivors of prostitution. The ongoing war has created considerable hardships for vulnerable mothers striving to escape the cycle of prostitution. Meeting with this group was deeply rewarding, as was providing critical financial aid for over 200 mothers, helping with household expenses, healthcare, mental support, and counseling.

Surviving this nightmare takes every ounce of strength I have and collaborating with aid organizations bolsters me emotionally and fosters a renewed sense of community and collective resilience. These connections keep me going, and play a vital role in helping us all navigate the daunting challenges we continue to encounter.

As the fighting persists, every dollar contributed to the Annual Campaign will go toward addressing local needs arising from the war, providing humanitarian relief in Israel, increasing security for Jewish organizations, and helping students combat antisemitism on campus.

Our Federation philanthropic advisors have also curated a giving guide of vetted organizations supporting victims of sexual violence in Israel and the U.S. These organizations are eligible for grant recommendations from donor-advised funds.


February 16, 2024


Ester Biro