Israel Emergency Campaign touches all ages in Sderot

Gabi Boron is only 9. But he knows the drill well.

“If I have a house near me, even if it’s a strange guy, I have to run into the house without knocking,” he said.

But if Gabi is too far from a house when the missile-warning siren blasts, he said, “I have to run to a tree.”

And if there is no tree, “I have to lie down on my stomach and cover my head.”

Because Kassam missiles have been hitting the Sderot area for seven years, Gabi has never been able to play in the soccer field across from his home, “because we have no protection there,” he said.

While Gabi said he’s often scared, he now has a hobby that helps take his mind off the daily bombings. He’s learning how to play the drums as part of the school enrichment program for kids suffering from anxiety caused by the ongoing bombings.

Since the program began, parents and teachers claim that fighting has been reduced in the classroom, and nightmares and bed-wettings are less common.

The program was made possible by the $360 million Israel Emergency Campaign, sponsored by Jewish federations in San Francisco, the East Bay and elsewhere across North America.

Israel Emergency Campaign monies are being used to help all age groups in the ravaged Sderot area. Among the numerous programs receiving assistance are:

• Yuval, which helps cover the cost of first-responder emergency crews;

• Matov, which works with the municipality, nonprofits and community organizations in coordinating relief efforts;

• Camping programs during the summer and enrichment programs during the school year;

• The training of psychologists and counselors to help traumatized children and adults;

• Reinforcement of the walls and ceilings of public facilities;

• Day-care programs for seniors;

• And scholarships to students at Sapir University.

Anat Regev, the principal at Gabi’s school, is upset the Israeli government hadn’t come to Sderot’s rescue before the Israel Emergency Campaign began.

“I feel that only the last year was there awareness throughout the country of what we’re going through here,” she said.

“It’s a real nightmare. As a school principal, the sense of responsibility is very heavy.”

Last year three Kassams hit her school, and another three this year. Luckily, the worst attack happened the very day parents kept their kids home as a strike action against the lapses in security at the school.

Following that incident, Regev received funding to pay for reinforcing some, but not all, of the classrooms. Her office was not reinforced.

Regev is proud of the fact that she has been an educator for 31 years and missed only three days of work — until this year, when she was out for two months. She’d fallen down and badly injured her leg.

She blames the accident on fatigue — caused by worry.

“I don’t sleep at nights,” she explained.

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