We're showing our solidarity with Israel
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The UJIA Israel Now mission at Tel Hashomer Sheba Medical Centre
UK Jews took part in a wide-ranging solidarity mission in Israel this week, organised by UJIA to give community members the opportunity to convey their support in person.
The 115 participants delivered gift packages to wounded Israeli soldiers at the Tel Hashomer Sheba Medical Centre in Ramat Gan, and to children in Ashkelon affected by the Gaza conflict. They were also given briefings by high profile figures, including Israeli Labour leader Isaac Herzog, UK ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould and the initiator of the Iron Dome air defence system, Daniel Gold, as well as a lecture on the emotional and psychological impact of the conflict on ordinary Israelis.
Among the youngest participants was Josh Peleg, 16, who went on Israel tour with FZY this summer. "I came on the mission because otherwise I was just sitting by the pool not helping anyone out," he said. "I wanted to actively help and get involved. The best part so far was in Ashkelon meeting Yuval, who is head of the youth council for the whole southern region. She's only 17 and it's just so inspiring what she's doing helping the young people get through this situation."
North Londoner Paula Lent said she had taken part "to do whatever I can to support Israel. We need to be active and come together and do something. I'm doing it for my children, I want them to know that it's important to stand up for what they believe in."
UJIA's David Goldberg said the mission had been organised in response to a feeling that the UK community "wanted to connect with Israel, beyond donating and attending communal gatherings. We put this mission together to give people the chance to meet the people of Israel and hear from them about what life has been like over these past weeks. We're very proud to have been part of this."
Back in the UK, 65 young professionals attended a debate on the subject of "Why always Israel?" at UJIA's Camden head office on Tuesday. The Young UJIA event was organised in partnership with the JC, whose editor Stephen Pollard was on the panel with senior Israeli diplomat Rony Yedidia-Clein and Elanit Green from the OneVoice movement, which works towards a peaceful resolution. They took questions from the audience and moderator Clive Sheldon, the Masorti Judaism co-chair.
The discussion was the second of a two-part educational series, designed to cover the key facts and arguments surrounding the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Young UJIA's Victoria Romain explained that "many young Jews don't feel they have the knowledge necessary to speak about the conflict. That's why it's so important for us to reach out and give them the tools that they need."