The mission of the Adat Yeshurun Terror Victim Relief Fund (TVRF) is to provide a vehicle for giving financial and emotional support to those Israeli citizens and their families who have been the innocent victims of terror. We will be aiding Israeli individuals who have suffered and Israeli organizations that would use our support for the sole purpose of helping these victims.
What We Do
In October, 2002, Congregation Adat Yeshurun established the Terror Victim Relief Fund (TVRF) in an effort to give real support to individuals and families in Israel dealing with the after-effects of Arab terrorism. A large portion of the funds we raise go to providing ongoing, direct financial support to a large number of families that have been "adopted" by our fund. Working with the best Israeli-based relief organizations we particularly try to focus on areas of need that "fall through the cracks" of governmental aid to terror victims. However, the scope of our solidarity activities go far beyond raising and sending funds, as important as that is. We also strive to create emotional solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel in the most personal ways possible. TVRF coordinates solidarity visits by our congregants to the homes of Israeli terror victims and their families. TVRF also coordinates solidarity visits of Israeli victims and families to our San Diego community. Because many of the administrative services to TVRF are provided by Adat Yeshurun, the maximum possible amount of money raised goes to help those in need. Contributions are tax deductible.
Adopt a Family
The Adopt-a-Family program matches Israeli terror victim families with synagogues, individuals or other groups throughout the United States to create a significant and lasting bond between communities. Through a careful process that takes into consideration the character and needs of both the American community and the Israeli terror victim family, our program sets into motion an unprecedented partnership of Jewish souls. The American community "adopts" an Israeli family that has sustained loss of life or limb through terrorism, in order to provide long-term financial and emotional support. This commitment enables the terror victim family to begin to rebuild their shattered lives with a bastion of security above and beyond what the Israeli government, their own friends or family, or other support networks might provide.
The Adat Yeshurun Terror Victim Fund works with several organizations in Israel to adopt families that need our help and support. To date, Adat Yeshurun has adopted four familes victimized by terrorism and has supported other families in more limited ways.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do we select the families we adopt and determine what support to provide them?
When the TVRF committee feels we have enough funds to consider supporting an additional family we consult with the OneFamily organization about which Israeli families in their extensive data base are most in need of outside help. OneFamily routinely assess each families psychological and monetary needs and sends us a biography along with suggested support (i.e. monthly stipends). The committee reviews these families and decides which ones to adopt based upon perceived need and our resources to provide it. Our hope is that families that we don't select will be adopted by other organizations and that in time we will be able to help more and more families. We constantly try to re-assess each families needs, through personal visits and phone calls and consultation with One-Family and other organizations.
Doesn't the Israeli government take care of Terror Victims?
While the Israeli government does take care of the basic needs of most terror victims, as with any bureaucracy, many essential items fall through the cracks and often government support isn't sufficient for a families needs. TVRF strives to provide terror victims with what the government does not provide - to fill in the gaps. Typically this is in the form of a monthly stipend but occasionally it's a one-time or periodic stipend for special needs. Furthermore, we strive to give them more than material sustenance but moral support, and the realization that people on the other side of the world care about their personal struggle. That is something no government can provide.
Here are a few examples:
- Money to the Finers so that they have a nurses-aid take care of their daughter, Chana Nachenberg, who is in a coma since the S'Barro bombing. By providing these funds, we let the Finers return to work and try to put their lives back together as they help raise their 4-year old grand-daughter Sara, who miracously survived the bombing. On one occasion the nurses' aid we fund saved Chana's life when she alerted hospital staff that Chana had stopped breathing.
- We funded a bat mitzvah for the Chamu family, which could not have taken place without our help. The Rabbi with one of the missions were able to attend the Chamu Bat Mitzvah and to add to the joy.
- We provided money to Yael Shohat, a mother who fell into massive financial after she was seriously injured in an ambush (in which her mother was killed) so that he that she could provide appropriate burial arrangements for father who passed away in Holland.
- Funds to the Koby Mandell Foundation, which specializes in providing summer camps for children whose families have been victims of attacks and parents that have lost children.
- Finally, we provide toys for the children of the families at Chanukah time and send Mishloach Manot at Purim time.
We are developing a database of birthday, yarzheits, etc. so as to recognize milestones in the lives of our adopted families. Our goal is to strengthen the victims and their families on their difficult road to returning to "normal" lives.
What percentage of the money we give goes to the families?
Almost all the money we collect goes directly to support the families. We have very low administrative overhead, mainly because the shul's administrative staff support our operations and our committee members volunteer their time. Of the approximately $170,000 in contributions we have thus far received, we have incurred about $11,000 in expenses. Approximately $10,000 of this was for our special Mother's Day fundraising concert which had expenses for marketing, venue and performers. The concert raised about $40,000 in donations, netting about $30,000, - a worthwhile return on our expenses. Aside from special fundraising events like that , our administrative costs are trivial and mainly related to printing things like this update newsletters. Another way we assure most of our funds go directly to families is by investing most of it (about 82%, to date) in the Adopt-A-Family program rather than simply giving it to relief organizations as an unrestricted donation. Through the Adopt-A-Family program we can deliver the funds directly and independently verify that funds allocated to a family get to that family.
Why give to TVRF rather than directly to an organization or a family I know in Israel?
When you give directly to a relief organization, you cannot be sure how much of that money is used to support their administrative costs or control how that money is allocated. Through adopt-a-family process, TVRF selects the most needy families, and earmarks dollar amounts based on need. Through feedback such as our newsletters and updates, you can know how your money is used and the impact it has.
When you give directly to a family, you can't know how much that family receives from the government or from other relief agencies.
When you give to TVRF, the recipients do not receive money from a relief organization but rather they understand that they are receiving the support on your behalf, that is from the members of Adat Yeshurun and the larger Jewish San Diego community. It's a more personal connection with our community.
When you give to TVRF, you empower us to use that money to provide personalized support and create an ongoing support mechanism through our members in addition to the monetary help. Thus $100 dollars is not just $100 but also visits and phone calls etc. by a fellow Jew from Adat Yeshurun or perhaps a visiting family or a delegation delivering that $100.
Why do we support only a few Israeli Terror relief organizations and not other worthy ones?
There are a large number of worthy Israeli terror relief organizations and we have carefully researched many of them. All these organizations have strengths and shortcomings. However, many of them simply duplicate each others efforts. TVRF mainly coordinates our efforts with the OneFamily Fund. We have found that this organization has the most resources, most volunteers and the most comprehensive database of families victimized by terror which includes other support being received from other organizations. This is important because we want to make sure that when we support a family, the support is not being duplicated by another organization or agency. Furthermore, only OneFamily provides a Adopt-A-Family program which the TVRF committee prefers, so that we can earmark our contributions and become personally involved in the support (including verifying the correct distribution of our allocations). Many of the TVRF committee members have visited OneFamily offices in Israel to get acquainted with their operations. We do support other organizations if they provdie some special service to terror victims . The best example is the Koby Mandell Foundation which is a terrific organization we support because it that specializes in supportive retreats specifically for children or for parents who have lost family members. If you know of any organization that provides something unique to terror victims please let us know.
How do we make sure the families get the funds we send?
We take great care to make sure that our families receive the funds we are sending. We do this by sending our money to the OneFamily organization in Israel. OneFamily converts it to checks in Israeli Shekels. We then arrange for people who are affiliated with our shul, like Bernardo Romanowsky and David Winick or one of our Missions or visiting members to personally deliver the checks on behalf of our congregation. Michael Rosen, one of committee members and Enrique Eichner are also keeping regular contact with each family to assure they are receiving our funds and that their needs are met. We also work closely with OneFamily and other organizations in Israel to track any changes in a family's needs over time so we can adjust and shift our financial and moral support accordingly.