The Times of Israel: Nourished Hope for Israel’s Most Vulnerable Youth

Amit-1
Amit Fraser, a graduate of Ben Gurion University who has been at the forefront of the British chapter of Migdal Ohr, serves as a guiding light for Jews worldwide. As executive director of Migdal Ohr UK, Fraser continues to handle her pressing, urgent, and life-saving fundraising endeavors with great flair and purpose.

Established in 1972 by Israel Prize Winner and Presidential Medal of Distinction recipient Rabbi Dovid Grossman, Migdal Ohr is nurtured by a deeply rooted love for the Jewish state. The organization represents Israel’s largest welfare non-profit “educational network that provides a framework of critical services and life-changing essential programs to [thousands of] deprived, orphaned, and at-risk Jewish children across Israel.”

Migdal Ohr’s facilities include daycare centers, preschools, and primary and secondary schools in Israel. It also has its own fundraising chapters throughout the world, with its UK division likely serving as its biggest. Its donations provide needed accommodation, meals, clothing, and health services for Israeli orphans and at-risk kids.

In recent months since Oct. 7, Migdal Ohr has mobilized its donors from all over the world in a massive campaign to provide shelter to over 4,000 evacuees from the Gaza border and families most affected by the horrific terror assault, as reported by The Jewish Link. The Magen Israel initiative, for instance, continues to expand rapidly while responding to immediate needs, which emerge on the front lines and in Israel’s hospitals.

Rabbi Grossman, who serves as the Chief Rabbi of Migdal HaEmek, has personally visited dozens of army and air force bases.

Other organizations, like The Israel Forever Foundation, also do noble work in line with the ethos of Migdal Ohr. Elana Yael Heideman, The Israel Forever Foundation’s Executive Director and CEO, and a native of Louisville, Kentucky, says, “Since Oct. 7, we have been working on multiple fronts with displaced families through our Healing Hearts Mosaics project. We receive letters and artwork from all around the world, which we bring to those who need support.”

Heideman, an expert on Holocaust, antisemitism, education, and the psychology of atrocity survival and memory, adds, “[We are] simultaneously working with diaspora Jews on coping, education, empowerment, and activism. We continue to do all we can to raise awareness, and provide resources and tools for tangible impact. We [help with] private consulting for individuals and institutions [as] we get requests from units directly because they need the morale boost so badly.” Heideman, a resident of Moshav Nes Harim in the Judean Mountains, has lived in Israel for nineteen years.

Amit Fraser, Migdal Ohr UK’s executive director, shares the genesis of the beneficent work done by this first-rate charity organization in this exclusive interview.

Jared Feldschreiber: Where did the brainchild of Migdal Ohr come about?

Amit Fraser: [As mentioned earlier], it came from Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, who founded the organization in 1972 to provide comprehensive support and education to at-risk youth and orphaned children in Israel.

JF: What is your declared goal with this year’s fundraiser?

AF: Our goal is to raise £1,000,000 ($1,268,530) in two days to support the “Orphans’ Emergency Plan for Life” program. We will double every donation.

JF: How do you work with Israeli charities to see it through?

AF: We collaborate closely with other Israeli charities by sharing resources, coordinating efforts, and aligning our programs to ensure that the needs of orphaned and at-risk children are met comprehensively. This includes joint fundraising efforts, sharing best practices, and partnering on specific initiatives.

JF: Has the current situation made getting donations more difficult or easier?

AF: The current situation has created a greater sense of urgency and awareness, making it somewhat easier to garner support as people are more empathetic and willing to help. However, some areas’ economic challenges and donor fatigue can make sustained fundraising efforts more difficult.

JF: How does Migdal Ohr UK help orphans directly?

AF: We help orphans by providing a structured support system that includes emotional and psychological counseling, educational programs, vocational training, and basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. We aim to support them from childhood through adulthood. This ensures that they have the resources and guidance to build successful, independent lives.

JF: Name some organizations in Israel that you partner with that help to support orphans.

AF: We have many! They include: Or Shalom, ELI: The Israel Association for Child Protection, The Neve Michael Children’s Village, Lev Lalev Fund, Beit Issie Shapiro, and Yeladim: Fair Chance for Children.

JF: Briefly explain the genesis of Migdal Ohr from its inception.

AF: Migdal Ohr was started in 1972 by Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, who saw the need for a comprehensive support system for at-risk youth and orphans in Israel. He began with a small group of children and expanded the organization to include multiple educational and support facilities over the years.

JF: Are London-based Jews often the most prominent donors?

AF: London Jewry has been a significant supporter of Migdal Ohr, contributing generously to our fundraising efforts. Their commitment and donations have played a crucial role in the success of our programs and initiatives.

JF: What can the Jewish diaspora do more to help?

AF: The Jewish diaspora can help by continuing to provide financial support, raising awareness about the needs of orphans and at-risk children in Israel, and advocating for policies that support child welfare. Additionally, they can volunteer their time and expertise, participate in fundraising events, and engage their communities in contributing to the cause.

**It was announced on June 19 that the 36-hour online ‘Light Up an Orphan’s Heart’ raised £825,000 (roughly $1,049,000). The e-mail blast wrote, “800+ orphans have lost their parents, siblings, family members, homes, and childhood innocence. Now, we will not let them lose their futures! We are their tower of light, shining renewed hope into their darkness, so they can start to heal and rebuild their lives.”

“I think the program speaks volumes,” adds Amit Fraser. “No other non-profit organization addresses the issue of orphans better than we do. We have the expertise. For over fifty years, Migdal Ohr cared for over 12,000 at-risk and orphaned children in Israel. It has provided them with life-changing programs, top-tier education, and all other essentials in order for them to thrive.” **

Source: The Times of Israel

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