Alumni Spotlight: Kibbutz Ketura’s Relief Efforts

By Young Judaea

By Rabbi Sara Cohen, Kibbutz Ketura YJ Alum: Camp Judaea, Tel Yehudah, Year-Round Clubs, Madrich at Sprout Lake, Year Course, made aliyah to Kibbutz Ketura with Garin Shacharut

Immediately following the attacks on October 7th Kibbutz Ketura began to provide housing, food, and many other necessities for approximately 400 evacuees. This number does not include Year Course who came to stay in our Keren Kolot guest facility during the beginning of the war.

Due to a little help from our friends (contributions mainly from the U.S., as well as our own tzedakah funds) we were blessed to able to host the evacuees without charge. Presently we are hosting 30 evacuees.  School-aged children of these families are integrated into our regional schools, and we are providing part time pre-school care for the younger kids.

In the early days of the war many members of the kibbutz were active in spontaneous, grass roots volunteer projects such as providing mattresses, toys, psychological counseling, driving people who needed to get to funerals, food, clothing and a range of other needs for the evacuees in our area, Eilat and the nearby army bases. Many of the evacuees who were being housed in Eilat did not only need to flee their homes, they were also dealing with the traumas of witnessing family members murdered , friends and family members being held hostage, and other traumatic events.

Many kibbutz members, residents, and children of members were immediately called into the army reserves and served for months in and around Gaza as well as on the northern border.  Some of these reserve soldiers are still away from home serving in their units. The kibbutz community rallied to provide support for the families of the reserve soldiers, many of them families with young children.  Presently there are also a number of kibbutz members who are actively supporting the families of the hostages in pushing to get their loved ones out of captivity, including attending weekly vigils in Eilat.  In addition, remarkably and heroically, the Arava Institute, an institute dedicated to peace building and environmental studies located on the kibbutz, was able to continue its program and activities, in spite of the war and despite of all of the technical and emotional difficulties involved in that effort.

Member of the Kibbutz doing an activity with children of evacuees in the library
Packing dates to send to soldiers and evacuees
Loading mattresses on a truck at Ketura to take to Eilat
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