Jewish charities across the UK have experienced a surge in volunteers over the last few weeks since the terror attacks in Israel, charity heads have reported.
Nicky Goldman, chief executive of the Jewish Volunteers Network (JVN), compared the increase in volunteers to what charities experienced at the start of the pandemic, saying that registrations had risen by 295 per cent since October 7.
“We are finding that people would like to do something to help Israel at this time, but if not directly, they are happy to do something for the communal organisations in general.”
According to Goldman, many people were coming to them having had little prior involvement with the Jewish community, but events in Israel had reignited their connection to their Jewish identity.
Due to the communal willingness to step up, JVN has recruited over 150 volunteers to help direct people to partner charities.
As one JVN volunteer, Nicola Burton, put it: “It’s nice to be useful rather than feeling hopeless at times like this.”
In addition to working with charities in the UK, JVN has also been working with charities in Israel, including the English Speaking Residents Association (ESRA), helping to support families impacted by the terror attacks and the war.
Another charity which has seen a huge increase in volunteers is the Community Security Trust (CST), which has recruited over 900 new volunteer security officers to protect the Jewish community at synagogues and elsewhere.
According to CST’s director of policy, Dave Rich, the organisation now has some 2,500 trained volunteers.
Rich said it was “a welcome sign of the resilience of our community”.
CST has also seen an increase in volunteers amongst students. One such new recruit is Jake Frank from Leeds University, who said that volunteering “enables people not to be scared to go to events and ensures that everyone feels protected within the community”.
At communal volunteering charity GIFT, the number of volunteers has also seen a huge jump. “Previously GIFT had 240 volunteers on a general GIFT volunteering WhatsApp group. The group now stands at over 950, and we have renamed it GIFT4Israel,” said the charity’s managing director Sandor Milun.
He added: “We are overwhelmed by people’s willingness to help and incredibly proud of our community.”