Steadfast Support: How the Jewish Foundation Responded to the War in Israel

For many, the past three months have been incredibly difficult. The attacks in Israel on October 7th, and the subsequent barrage of antisemitism, have left Jewish people around the world feeling lonely, scared, and insecure.

In the early days of this crisis, UJA did what UJA always does when the Jewish people need support—brought tens of thousands of community members together to help in the most impactful way possible. The Emergency Appeal for the People of Israel was launched. Donations for Israelis in need were collected from tens of thousands of generous community members. Volunteers sorted and packed more than 40 tons of essential supplies.

This response was the epitome of the Toronto Jewish community’s ruach (spirit) in crisis. We unite, we help, and we emerge stronger than ever.

The Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto utilized our unique connection to UJA to keep fundholders informed about how to get involved, especially through distributions to the Emergency Appeal, as every single dollar raised for that special campaign has been earmarked for helping Israelis overcome this crisis. Allocations were first dedicated to meeting emergency needs, but as the situation evolved, the focus began to shift toward a successful recovery over the mid- and long-term.

As Jonah noted in the introduction of this newsletter, as of January 2024, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has raised $70 million dollars, $23.525 million of which has been deployed to its partners on the ground. Of those funds raised, approximately $9 million came from Jewish Foundation fundholders. Here are some of the incredible organizations that are using our community’s donations to help Israelis:

  • The Jewish Agency for Israel has provided rapid payments to more than 2,000 families victimized by terror, as well as a range of urgent services for those who have taken shelter in Israel’s southernmost regions. This includes mental health supports, schooling for children, medical services, and community and social programs for evacuees. With 60,000+ sheltering in host communities in the far south, the daily needs are far beyond the local capacity.
  • United Hatzalah has bought life-saving emergency supplies for emergency medics, such as trauma first-aid kits, tourniquets, defibrillators, and protective gear.
  • Beit HaLochem has provided services for those wounded in acts of terrorism or recovering from wounds post-military discharge. This includes hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, therapeutic devices, specialized sports equipment, and programming.
  • The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee trained social workers, teachers, caregivers, and medical staff to provide trauma relief and psychological support to those who are acutely at-risk.
  • ZAKA, a volunteer-led organization, received equipment to aid in the recovery, identification, and burial of victims so that those murdered in terror attacks can receive a proper burial.

These are just a few of the ways our community has helped Israelis and will continue to as their needs change.

Several points became clear when the Jewish Foundation family distributed $9 million to UJA’s Emergency Appeal. First, our fundholders are incredibly generous—and this has been evident for decades. Whether the needs are local or overseas, ongoing or one-time, fundholders at the Jewish Foundation can always be counted on to make a vital impact in times of crisis.

Second, donations to an emergency cause from the Foundation are ready to be deployed incredibly quickly. Most other non-profits need to raise the money first, whereas fundholder dollars are already pooled and ready to be distributed. This ability to pivot quickly gives the Jewish Foundation an advantage to make an immediate impact.

Third, the close relationship between the Foundation and UJA sets both organizations apart. UJA donors have access to the Foundation’s approach to long-term giving that will benefit the Jewish community well into the future. Foundation fundholders have access to philanthropic advisors who can update them on the Jewish community’s needs and can recommend causes that would be meaningful in the context of each fundholder’s individual charitable goals. In the case of the war, this partnership with UJA allowed distributions to make the most impact right away due to UJA’s relationships with organizations on the ground in Israel.

To learn more about how the Jewish Foundation can work with your clients to support the causes they care about, please get in touch at