By Eileen Freed, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor

Since that horrible Saturday morning, October 7, when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel from Gaza, the Jewish community has worked together to act in support of Israel, to highlight the plight of the now 239 hostages being held in Gaza, and to address local antisemitism. In the last month, the world has seen the evidence of Hamas’ barbaric attack. More than 1400 people, mostly civilians, were brutally murdered, and thousands were injured. Hamas took 244 people – women, children, babies, soldiers, the elderly, whole families – to Gaza. As of this writing, four hostages have been released and one was rescued by the Israel Defense Forces. The fate of the remainder of the captives is unknown, and the Red Cross has not been allowed access to assess their condition or obtain proof of life.

Israel Emergency Campaign

On October 7, the Jewish Federations of North America initiated the largest, most collaborative philanthropic effort ever undertaken by the Jewish community. In partnership with the Jewish Community Center Association, Reform and Conservative movements, National Council for Jewish Women, and umbrella organizations for Jewish Day Schools and Jewish Family Service organizations, Jewish Federations of North America launched a historic $500 million Israel Emergency Fund Campaign.

The goal was surpassed in just under three weeks. As of November 10, almost $638 million was raised and $175 million was allocated to Israeli NGOs.

In Ann Arbor, generous donors set up a $125,000 match to encourage support for this effort, and the Jewish Federation is partnering with Beth Israel Congregation, the Hebrew Day School, Jewish Community Center and Temple Beth Emeth to encourage participation. And this collaborative effort has been and continues to be a success. As of November 10, almost 200 donors had contributed more than $300,000.

A fundraiser for the Israel Emergency Campaign was held November 19 at the home of Malcolm & Judy Cohen.

One hundred percent of Israel Emergency Campaign funds are used for immediate and urgent needs of the individuals and communities most impacted. These include funds for medical care, emergency services, evacuation, transport, housing, supporting victims of terror, trauma relief and psychological support. This fundraising effort will not stop because it will take years for victims to resume their lives and to rebuild the communities of the south.

To contribute to the Israel Emergency Campaign, visit

Standing together as a Community

As the magnitude of the hostage situation became clear and community members were feeling increasingly isolated and betrayed by those blaming the attack on Israel, Jewish Federation, in partnership with local community partners, spearheaded a community gathering Sunday, October 22 in front of City Hall. The gathering, attended by almost 300 people, included remarks by Federation Executive Director Eileen Freed and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. The names of the hostages – known to that point – were read by student leaders from the University of Michigan. Local clergy led prayers and songs. To read Eileen’s remarks, visit the News & Events section of the Federation website.

Additional community gatherings included a collaborative evening of song and healing hosted at Temple Beth Emeth and several educational programs held by local synagogues.

Almost 50 community members joined with hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country at a March for Israel in Washington DC on November 14. The March was in support of Israel and the hostages and to protest the rise of antisemitism.

Taking Action

Over the past month, members of the community have taken action in numerous ways.

The local Israeli community has initiated a powerful grass roots effort to ensure the hostages are not forgotten. They have held stroller and shoe displays on the University of Michigan Campus and near the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Their events include reading the names of the hostages and providing information to passersby.

Community members of all ages have written letters of support to evacuee families, which have been passed along to Ann Arbor’s partner community, Moshav Nahalal, and to leaders at Dror Israel who have been working with evacuee families.

Local Jewish organizations have promoted the Blue Ribbon campaign to call for the return of the hostages. Blue Ribbons and blue bracelets may be picked up at local synagogues and at the JCC. To post on social media, visit

The Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC) and Federation leaders have been engaged in meaningful conversations with local and state civic leaders and law enforcement to ensure they understand the Jewish community’s concerns about safety, security and antisemitism. JCRC is also mobilizing a Parents of Jewish Students Advisory group; its first meeting was November 19. For more information about civic engagement, contact McKenzie Katz at

To stay in touch, learn about upcoming programs, and get information about opportunities to mobilize, visit and the Israel Resource Page, and subscribe to Federation’s e-newsletters, which contain information about activities across the community.