UJC Launches Campaign

The umbrella of North American federations is set to unveil a multipronged, $4-million solidarity campaign titled "Israel NOW — and Forever."

The United Jewish Communities (UJC) project — which should receive final approval by late July — combines various advocacy, education and fundraising activities and will last until winter, said Gail Hyman, UJC’s vice president for marketing and public affairs.

"We understand there’s a great desire for a national program," Hyman said. "We have a responsibility to listen to our community and to offer the kind of program that will resonate from coast to coast. And unfortunately, that takes a little time. But now we have the support, and we’re ready to act."

The first step will be this weekend’s "Solidarity Shabbat" of UJC leadership in Jerusalem, where the group will meet with Israeli leaders and hammer out final details of the campaign.

Among the other campaign highlights:

  • Heavy promotion of solidarity missions to Israel.

  • Advocacy- and media-training for campus and community activists, in conjunction with local Hillels and Jewish community relations councils, "to train their leadership to become strong advocates on behalf of Israel," Hyman said.

  • A fundraising initiative to assist all Israeli families directly affected during the violence by death, injury, property destruction or psychological damage — and perhaps even economic support for small-business owners. "We understand there are lots of children having great difficulty," Hyman said.

  • A media tour that will take Israeli spokesmen and U.S. Middle East experts — scholars, journalists and other opinion-shapers — into key communities across North America to meet with local media.

  • A major mission to Israel, called "Journey to Solidarity I," to be held Sept. 9 to 14.

  • Production of 1 million leaflets, to be distributed Sept. 17 in all synagogues during Rosh Hashanah, to remind Jews of the need for solidarity. "As we sound the shofar this year, it will also be a call to action for every Jew in North America," Hyman said.

  • A Solidarity Shabbat on Sept. 22 and 23 that will reach out to synagogues, churches and university campuses to show that "support for Israel extends beyond the Jewish community," Hyman said.

  • A major outdoor rally in New York on Sept. 23, with a concurrent rally possible in Los Angeles. New York was chosen not only because of its huge Jewish community but because it is America’s media capital, Hyman said. The UJC also "wants our voices heard by members of the United Nations," which will be convening their General Assembly just days later.