Project ImpACT boss helps deliver urgent supplies to children in southern Israel

Chayli Fehler extended a stay in the Jewish state to assist in one of the worst hit towns after Hamas' terror attack


The CEO of two UK-based charities is in southern Israel, assisting in the delivery of urgent supplies and the distribution of kits for children.

London resident Chayli Fehler, who also works at Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, had been in Jerusalem for Succot when the war with Hamas broke out.

After realising the severity of the conflict, Chayli who is CEO of volunteering charity Project ImpACT and The Step Up, a humanitarian non-profit, immediately extended her stay in the country to help, focusing on Ofakim, one of the hardest hit cities in the south.

Chayli said: “Being in Ofakim straight after the attack occurred and sitting shiva with the families of the slain and hearing the harrowing stories of community members was incredibly moving.

"They showed me the damage to their homes, of how they escaped, who was murdered where and pictures of their lost loved ones.

“I saw fresh blood on floors, bullet holes in walls. ‘We’ve got holes in our hearts that will never be filled,’ they told me.”

The town of Ofakim is situated about 20 kilometres west of Beersheba and 20 kilometres east of Gaza.

The town had suffered horrendously at the hands of Hamas terrorists.

Of the 30,000 people in the town, 47 people had been killed, and many are still too afraid to leave their homes or even go to bomb shelters when sirens blare.

It took two days after the massacre to clear the last of the terrorists from the town, and Chabad rabbi Shneur Konig, who runs a soup kitchen there, has since been going door to door to provide food and moral support to the town’s residents.

Chayli, who in September returned from Rwanda and Burundi where she ran education, health and hygiene programmes, put her humanitarianism skills to use and contacted Rabbi Konig.

She mobilised her international crew of 25 core volunteers, some of whom had been in east Africa with her, to travel to the town and focus on aiding its community. Within 24 hours, they had raised $20,000.

As well as overseeing the soup kitchen, Kitchen of Hope, with Rabbi Konig, which has distributed about 3,500 meals in the space of a week, Chayli has established three other projects that run simultaneously in the town.

Two are aimed at young people: a youth programme to keep kids engaged while school are closed, which includes running art therapy sessions, sports, and drama workshops and the “Kit for Kids” campaign, which consists of distributing thousands of “resilience packs” to families.

These contain stress- relieving toys, games and activity booklets to keep children occupied during long stints inside.

Another project which Chayli has developed to get the Jewish diaspora involved and raise morale is to have people write letters and messages of support, digitally or handwritten, which are then distributed by volunteers to soldiers, hospital patients, evacuated families and medical staff in Israel.

More than 700 letters have so far been written by every age and across the religious spectrum and make “a world of difference” to the recipients, said Chayli.

“Everyone in the diaspora feels like they want to do something,” Chayli said, “and what people here often want, even more than food, is to not feel alone. “It has been so meaningful for them when they get a handwritten letter saying: ‘The whole of London is behind you.’”

Rabbi Konig insisted that Chayli and her group, as the only team of international volunteers in the town, attended as many shivas as possible.

Chayli met and spoke with a widow who had lost both her sons, and another who had both neighbours on either side of them killed. “But I was also told about the miracles the community had witnessed,” Chayli said.

“People are still determined to focus on the good and to be grateful. It means a lot to communities to hear from the diaspora.”

An Instagram page featuring some of the letters can be found at
@letterstoisrael18. You can send letters or drawings to

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