I doubt we will remember much about 2023 beyond the worst attack on our people since the Shoah and the subsequent war. Since that horrifying day, UJIA staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to meet the needs of survivors of October 7, making financial support available for individuals and struggling businesses, providing trauma support for thousands of Israelis, setting up pop-up schools and day camps for evacuated children and ensuring that those who have been displaced from their homes in the Western Negev and the North have basic provisions. We have also launched special Birthright tours so young British Jews can volunteer as agricultural labourers in Israel during this crisis with the next tour later this month.
It is difficult at UJIA to remember life before October 7 but we had a very busy year of activity. We were honoured to host the 13th Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett, at our annual dinner just days before our world changed, and also to have shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, speak at our Israel at 75 Yom Ha’atzmaut Business Breakfast. Most importantly, UJIA together with our MASA, Birthright Israel and youth movement partners sent 2,236 young people on life-changing educational programmes to Israel, ensuring that the next generation of our community will remain committed to Zionism and our Jewish community in the UK.
As for 2024, our only wish is that we will continue to help heal those whose lives were broken on October 7 and in its aftermath and that the Jewish people will go from strength to strength. UJIA will always do whatever we can towards that goal. Am Israel Chai.
Mandie Winston is the chief executive of UJIA