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Israelis Lend a Helping Hand in Puerto Rico

*Some of this information is from the IsraAID website

News accounts last fall brought us heart-wrenching stories of the devastation suffered by Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands when Hurricane Maria struck on September 19.  Much of the island’s infrastructure, buildings, and homes were destroyed.  But did you know that Israelis were among the first emergency response teams distributing food, hygiene kits, water filters, and psychological first aid to Puerto Ricans in crisis?  As reported in the e-newsletter, Israel21c, a team from Israeli NGO IsraAID arrived within days after the hurricane struck.  In describing the scene, Natalie Revesz, head of IsraAID’s mission in Puerto Rico, was quoted as saying:  “The island is in complete ruin. There are wrecked cars all over the streets, boats washed onto land, many trees destroyed and felled, and electricity pylons upended, with cables scattered everywhere. The lack of electricity has also hugely impacted Puerto Rico’s clean water supply, and many areas now have no or very limited access. People in the streets are worried and shocked; there is a tremendous feeling of confusion and uncertainty.”

The news report described IsraAID’s work last fall:

“Based on its assessment of immediate needs, the team’s first priority was distributing and setting up water filters in the most affected places, and training local people how to use them effectively…One of the few international aid agencies on the island, IsraAID also is offering post-trauma psychological first aid to displaced residents and is training local volunteers in how to provide such first aid.

 ‘Our emergency response team is working very closely with local organizations and communities, including leaders from the Jewish community, to assess the most acute, immediate needs. IsraAID remains committed to supporting individuals, families and communities worst-affected by Hurricane Maria,’ said Yotam Polizer and Navonel Glick.  They said that the team will continue to monitor immediate needs and assess mid- to longer-term needs.  Over the past month, IsraAID volunteers also have been among other Israeli relief organizations assisting people affected by hurricanes in Mexico, Texas and Florida.  

IsraAID, founded in 2001, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to providing life-saving disaster relief and long term support. For over a decade, its teams of professional medics, search & rescue squads, post-trauma experts and community mobilizers, have been first on the front lines of nearly every major humanitarian response in the 21st century. Their mission is to efficiently support and meet the changing needs of populations as they strive to move from crisis to reconstruction/rehabilitation, and eventually, to sustainable living.




Throughout Beth Hillel Bnai Emunah, congregants continually seek ways to support the state of Israel. Films, bulletin articles, speakers, and other programming give us avenues to learn more about Israel and the challenges that the country faces.   Visiting Israel provides a most powerful opportunity to witness and experience the joys and challenges that are part of everyday life in the Holy Land.

This past spring, 35 members took a two-week trip to Israel with Melton learning programs. We studied, visited historical sites, delved into historical and biblical texts, and interacted with Israelis, who told us their stories and helped us understand their rhythm of their lives.  One refrain was heard repeatedly, from the shops in Jerusalem to the stalls of a Tel Aviv market to the art studios in Safed:  please help us. Help us at this time when a significant decline in tourism due to a spike in violent attacks against Israelis has led to a dramatic decline in business.  Help us in this time when an international BDS movement has led to plummeting sales and the shrinking of our once-thriving small businesses.

One way that we as individuals here in the Chicagoland area can lend our support is to buy Israeli goods.  We can help Israeli merchants, large and small, and thus do our part to strengthen the Israeli economy, if we make a purposeful effort to think “Israel” when we are engaged in our regular shopping.  And a movement known as BIG—Buy Israeli Goods—can assist all of us in this endeavor.

The goal of BIG, a partnership between the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and a group known as StandWithUs, is to promote the purchase of Israeli made goods.  Whether it’s shopping for food, clothes, or gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, graduations and holidays, we encourage congregants to think BIG first.

Many Israeli goods can be purchased locally in U.S. stores.  To find out where, check the website,  Clicking on the Chicago market will lead you to 26 different categories of products and brands made in Israel that can be bought at local area stores or online. The array of goods is enormous and you can find everything from baby apparel, camp supplies, cosmetics and more.

Galilee Green Olive Oil. They are two American families who made Aliyah and started their own business producing and shipping their product all over the world. They are olim from Canada and established Galilee Green, a premium boutique brand of extra virgin olive oil almost three years ago. In that short time, they have become probably the best-loved olive oil from the Galilee. Exported directly to the end user all over the world. For product descriptions and pricing plans please visit

Consider shopping in our own Sisterhood gift shop, where you will find a nice selection of gift and ritual items that were made in Israel.

Let local merchants know that you are pleased when you find that they are stocking Israeli-made merchandise or food items imported from Israel.

Follow and friend SupportIsrael-Buy Israeli Products on Facebook to find stores, entertainment, and other places where you can give tangible support to Israel.

We’d love to have you snap a photo when you are buying Israeli goods!  Share with the congregation by passing your photo on to the office. Let the office know of specific shops or online websites where you have found Israeli goods and we will spread the word!  What better way to show off your purchases and support of Israel? Let’s go BIG!


Here are some websites that you might check out to find products made in
Israel. We’d love to hear about additional websites or stores to add to the list!

Thu, October 21 2021 15 Cheshvan 5782