The Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor is a long-lasting supporter of several civil society organizations attending some of Israel’s most fragile social segments:  Children at-risk, children with disabilities and Ethiopian-Israelis. Our partner organizations in Israel have developed during times of peace frameworks that enable them to attend these populations’ special needs in times of crises.

These organizations are: “Youth Futures” activity in our partnership region, in the city of Nof Hagalil; the Ethiopian National Project (RNP) and “Krembo Wings”.

“Youth Futures” is a youth mentorship program which works in some of Israel’s most deprived communities. This is a holistic program that meets children and provides them with attention, empowerment and supportive environment in their schools, homes and communities.

For many years the program’s mentors worked with the children, focusing on personal, familial, social, and educational areas in an effort to give them the tools to navigate challenges and celebrate achievements in a constructive way. Youth Futures does not only give children tools to succeed, but also empowers teens to serve as role models thus helping families to flourish.

Like every other organization in the state of Israel, Oct. 7th drastically changed the reality for “Youth Futures”, its employees and beneficiaries. Even within the small team of 8 working in Nof Hagalil, far from the fighting areas, grief has struck. One of the team members lost a close relative, a Golani brigade commander killed in the first day of fighting.

Beyond the personal grief, schools were closed, and the whole model of work with the program’s kids had to be altered. For “Youth Futures” beneficiaries, the isolation at home becomes a major demoralization and even a danger. Whether it is the feeling of loneliness and lack of peers’ encouragement, dangers from kids’ staying home unattended, or in the worst cases, with some children at risk, a real danger from immediate relatives “trapped” at home together. Therefore, the team could not pause and sink into their own grievances. They kept close connections with the kids and their families, visiting them in their homes (often under rocket alarms and other frightening situations) and were a real ray of light to the children, as the children were to them.

As schools are slowly opening back, according to the different stances of the fighting and levels of defense, the mentors can go back and meet the kids in the relative safety of their schools, back in groups to comfort each other in those difficult times.

Due to the Jewish Federation’s ongoing support of “Youth Futures” in times of peace, this important organization can keep on doing its important work also in these distressing times of war.

The Ethiopian National Project WORKS TO ENSURE THE FULL AND SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION OF ETHIOPIAN-ISRAELIS INTO ISRAELI SOCIETY.  The organization was founded in 2001 and since then works tirelessly to prevent the creation of a black underclass in Israel by launching targeted, evaluated initiatives that enable community members to grasp their full potential.

Due to many reasons, many Ethiopian-Israelis are among the weakest in Israeli society. Many of them dwell in peripheral towns and cities, with limited access to employment opportunities and higher education. Many teenagers find themselves in the streets and might end up in youth or later military prisons.

Thus, ENP focuses its efforts on youth ages 13 – 18 and the parents and leaders who impact their lives. In 2004, ENP launched a major effort to provide quality opportunities for Ethiopian-Israelis. ENP’s programs include after-school holistic support and workshops designed to empower parents and community leadership.

During times of crises, the weakest populations might find themselves the most severely affected. Living in the periphery in old buildings with no shelters risks lives. Working as “contract employees” makes them immediately lose income in times of crises, when offices and institutions close their gates.

Many Ethiopian-Israelis already suffer trauma, from the horrible, and many times untold, difficulties of their immigration journey to Israel, through Sudan. Many others, younger by age, are currently drafted to the military, large numbers of them to front-line units. Trauma affects much worse on those already affected by it in the past, and on soldiers experiencing the horrors of war. Many families live in old houses in peripheral cities, such as Ashkelon, and are forced to leave their apartments to safer places – crowing large families in hotel rooms or at relatives’ already-crowded apartments.

Home-less, School-Less and Job-less, many Ethiopian-Israelis need support.

Therefore, the work of ENP is so important during this time of crises.

From filling up the basic needs of dislocated families to emotional support and advocacy, the ENP uses its existing framework of activities and employees to support this fragile community.

‘Krembo Wings’ has been leading change across Israeli society by helping to change perceptions and bring awareness to children and youth with disabilities, for more than twenty years.

Established in 2002, and registered as a non-profit organization in 2006, ‘Krembo Wings’ began as the only fully inclusive youth movement in Israel – from humble origins as a once-a-week social outing for parents of and children with disabilities, it has developed into a thriving national network with 95 branches across Israel, over 9,000 participants, with a replicable and successful branch model being implemented across the country.

During these times of crises, Youth movements cannot keep working the same way. With many families forced to leave their homes, and educational group activities ceased, “Krembo Wings” changed its stance of operation.

The organization established an emergency “hot line” to advise and assist families of youth and children with disabilities. Youth members with no disabilities are visiting their comrades at their homes, instead of at the youth movement’s activities. Group meetings has shifted from in-person to on-line, thus keeping some kind of routine, so important for any kid, let alone a person with disabilities. For the more severe cases, of dislocated families, “Krembo Wings” established a “placement team”, assisting families to find suitable and accessible temporary housing. Finally, giving tools to the families of children to handle the unusual situations deriving by war, the organization provides a weekly on-line lecture by various professionals, dealing with anxiety, building resilience or facilitating parents’ conversations.

Your on-going support of the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor supports also “Krembo Wings’” ability to be there for Israel’s Youth and Children with disabilities during these harsh times.

The Ann Arbor Jewish communities lasting support f these organization enables them to work for Israel’s weakest in times of war and peace. Supporting the Jewish federation means supporting their work as well. During this time of crises, it is important to increase our support to these organizations, and others, by supporting JFNA’s Israel Emergency Fund. Please find a link to support the fund on the Jewish Federation’s website: .