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Guidelines for the Philanthropic Response of World Jewry to a Crisis in Israel

Civil Resilience Network – Israel's Local & National Resilience

Executive Summary


  1. This document is an annex to the conceptual framework Civil Resilience Network – National and Local Resilience in Israel, which was a product of the partnership between the Reut Institute and the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), initiated and sponsored by the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York City in 2008.

  2. It offers guidelines for those individuals, foundations, or organizations that aim, through their philanthropy, to either increase Israel's resilience or help Israel respond better to crisis (hereinafter ‘philanthropists’). This group includes individual philanthropists, foundations, Jewish community institutions such as local federations and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in the USA, UJIA in Britain, Keren HaYaseod and other organizations such as Hillel, the Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2000 Program, and Taglit-Birthright.

  3. The context for this paper is that, while philanthropists can and should play a significant role in enhancing the preparedness of Israel’s civil society, during future crises it may be harder for them to raise funds within their communities and spend them effectively in Israel. Hence the need to prepare.  ​

Resilience of the Israeli Home Front (2006-2010)


  1. The Second Lebanon War (7/06) exposed several key weaknesses in Israel’s society and its security and foreign policy approach. One of them was the gross unpreparedness of Israel's home front, which affected a significant area and a large population in Northern Israel, whose plight mobilized numerous NGO's, volunteers and philanthropists, many from the Jewish world.

  2. Since that episode, Israel's preparedness to crises has been overhauled. The Ministry of Defense has been assigned overall responsibility for the home front and has established the National Emergency Authority (NEMA) (2007) as its civilian arm to work together with the IDF Home Front Command. At the same time, other ministries, mainly the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, increased their preparedness efforts. This significant investment in resources and routine exercises has led to a remarkable transformation in the preparedness of Israel's emergency authorities, ministries, and local governments.

  3. Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (1/09) demonstrated evident and significant improvement in the capabilities of the government to respond to a crisis, which is of a limited geographic and demographic scope. However, in Operation Cast Lead and since, there has not been a systematic effort to tap into the resources and commitment of civil society i.e. non-governmental organizations, philanthropy and the business sector.

  4. Hence, despite these efforts and successes, Israel remains vulnerable to a national crisis, in which a large area and population will be affected by a natural disaster or war. Such a crisis can generate a significant gap between the needs and expectations of the population, on the one hand, and the capabilities and resources of the emergency authorities, on the other hand. Such a gap can lead to local collapses, in the form of breakdown of social norms, mass disobedience and loss of trust among citizens and authorities, similar to what occurred during the Katrina disaster in New Orleans (2005).

  5. The conceptual framework Civil Resilience Network – National and Local Resilience in Israel views the vision of resilience as the foundation for success on the home front. Resilience means the ability to transcend a crisis by adapting to dramatically changed conditions, by saving and protecting lives, by securing basic quality of life for individuals and communities, by protecting the social fabric and by maintaining functioning community.​

Guidelines for the Philanthropic Response  of World Jewry to a Crisis in Israel



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