Koret program provides funds, counseling to affected Israelis

Soon after the Katyushas started falling, S.F.-based Koret Foundation CEO Jeff Farber called his colleagues in Israel with only one question: “How can we help?”

As the war between Israel and Hezbollah heated up over the last two weeks, tens of thousands of Israelis in the north of the country faced emotional, financial and physical devastation. So far, says Farber, Koret and its Israel-based business enterprise program, the Koret Israel Economic Development Funds, have helped in two concrete ways: lending money to those in need, and supporting a hotline/counseling center for those in pain.

“We are working jointly with Bank Otzar Hachayal to help small businesses,” he says. “We are providing emergency loan assistance, reducing rates [on those loans], charging no commission and expediting the process. We’ve also increased the maximum loan from $43,000 to $65,000.”

In addition, Koret has made an emergency grant of $50,000 to NATAL, Israel’s trauma center for victims of terror and war. The funds support NATAL’s hotline providing emotional support as well as short- and long-term psychological therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We funded them in the past during the two intifadas,” adds Farber. “The unit [NATAL] has in the north moved from shelter to shelter, developing mental health plans for them.”

Farber was especially pleased that the Koret board, normally a more deliberative body, moved so quickly to approve the two steps.

“We feel a special responsibility to do whatever possible to help the residents in the north of Israel,” he says. “We hope the loan terms and NATAL will help the business conditions as well as the emotional trauma or stress people are feeling. This is a beginning of the whole process of healing.” n

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.