fbpx

Events Chair of JNFuture LA on Her Experience in Israel During the Massacre

In the aftermath of October 7, JNF-USA is raising funds for the communities in the Gaza Envelope, providing services like resilience centers, animal-assisted therapy programs and family therapy sessions.
[additional-authors]
November 16, 2023

Sarah Grace Victor arrived in Jerusalem on Monday, Oct. 2. As the events chair at JNFuture’s Los Angeles Board of Directors, she was excited to tour the Gaza Envelope, where she was participating in JNF-USA’s Sukkot Day Tour.

“While I have been to Israel a few times before to work and study, I had never experienced these holidays in Israel, and I was looking forward to the joy of the celebrations,” said Victor, a lawyer who serves as regional assistant director at Alums for Campus Fairness, which addresses antisemitism and anti-Israel biases on campus. “During the days of Chol HaMoed, the Kotel, market and streets of the city were packed with people singing, dancing and praying. I remember thinking I had never seen so many people in Jerusalem.”

During her tour of the Gaza Envelope – which is made up communities about four miles from the Gaza border – Victor met with people there and learned about their lives.

“The community members spoke about how they were secure and had grown in their preparedness for dealing with terrorism from Hamas,” she said.

Just a few days after her trip, however, the October 7 massacre occurred, in the Gaza Envelope. Victor was in Jerusalem at the time. 

“The sirens announcing rocket attacks pierced a pristine Shabbat morning,” she said. “I — and my neighbors — were taken aback because rockets directed at Jerusalem are not a usual occurrence, central as it is to the sacred sites of multiple religions.” 

Victor started receiving messages from people back home telling her to leave Israel immediately. But she chose to stay until the day she intended to leave, which was later that week.

“I thought being physically present for each other was important at that moment.”

“I felt it was important that if I came to share in the joy of the holiday, I would also be willing to stay in solidarity for the pain we were experiencing,” Victor said. “[I] visited friends throughout the country until I flew out on Thursday. The security situation meant I had to plan this more closely, but I thought being physically present for each other was important at that moment.”

In the aftermath of October 7, JNF-USA is raising funds for the communities in the Gaza Envelope, providing services like resilience centers, animal-assisted therapy programs and family therapy sessions. For $2,500, contributors can sponsor 24 sessions for one child over the course of a year to undergo animal therapy at the Sderot Animal Therapeutic Center, and a $3,600 contribution will go towards funding 12 sessions of family therapy at the Eshkol Resilience Center, which helps children and adults overcome PTSD. 

Since the day after the massacre thousands of college students on campuses across the nation have been protesting against Israel, which has kept Victor, who is not Jewish but a proud ally, busy at work. 

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen campus environments inflamed with hateful antisemitic rhetoric, with Jewish students assaulted, hiding, scared for their personal safety,” she said. “Because my job is focused on addressing antisemitism, I am especially aware of the effects the terrorist attack has had on communities in the Jewish diaspora around the world.”

When Victor moved to L.A. to start her current job, she joined JNF-USA because the idea of serving unprivileged communities in Israel resonated with her. She spoke at the Breakfast for Israel last year and talked about not being Jewish but standing in solidarity. For her part, she hopes to continue to be a voice for advocacy as well as let Jewish people know she stands with them during this difficult time.  

“I have been volunteering in little ways,” she said. “[I’ve been] checking up on my friends who are Jewish who feel unsafe.”

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Are We Going to Stop for Lunch?

So far, the American Jewish community has been exceptional in its support for Israel. But there is a long road ahead, and the question remains: will we continue with this support?

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.