Roi Abecassis, Head of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora at the World Zionist Organization, spoke to Arutz Sheva–Israel National News, about a new initiative to help displaced families from the south.
“Our initiative is aimed at connecting between people who own homes in Israel, people who live abroad, and the families evacuated from the south. Several days after the outbreak of the war, we realized that we had a big challenge in Israel, i.e., dealing with the families evacuated from the communities surrounding Gaza and the north. We need to find them a solution, an immediate solution.”
The WZO came up with a great idea, “We thought to approach Jews all around the world and ask them if they have an apartment in Israel. If the apartment is empty right now, would they agree to give it to us, we will connect between the apartment and an evacuated family to be able to bring them to a safe place for at least three months.”
He added, “We will give everyone a guarantee that we will bring your apartment back to you with no damage. We will pay for utilities. You bring your apartment for free, and we will make sure to match it with the families and give you back the apartment with no damage.”
Roi is surprised to see how many applications he got. “We have been online for the last ten days, and we have already received more than 300 applications. Thank G-d, it looks like we have a very good response from Jews from all over the world. In one case, we have a family from the north who has an autistic child, and they need a special school for him. They moved to Modiin, and the child started learning in one of the special needs schools there. But they still needed an apartment. I found the owner of an apartment in Modiin and said to him, ‘Listen, let's try to do the match with this family and your apartment. They were both so grateful. The owner of the apartment has a zechut [merit] to be part of this project, and of course, the family from the north was delighted.”
Roi added that he was “surprised to see that more than 50% of the applications come from Israelis. They have a second apartment in Israel, and all Israelis are so into the situation right now and want to help. This was another way to be involved, and they were very generous with the idea of offering the apartment to evacuated families.”
Roi remarked: “As the Head of the Center of Religious Affairs in the Diaspora, I sat in my office two days after the war and asked myself what kind of things I need. I had the feeling that one of the things we need to strengthen ourselves is the ‘ruach,’ the spirit of Am Israel. That's why I approached forty spiritual leaders all around the world, from the entire spectrum of communities, and I asked them to give us 90 seconds to strengthen the spirit of Am Israel, the spirit of the nation. Every night, we send out a video with a short message from a spiritual leader to give some strength, to strengthen the spirit of the nation.”
In conclusion, Roi adds, “We are delighted to have 300 applications, but we need more. Every day, I am receiving so many requests from the municipalities in the communities surrounding Gaza, such as Sderot. We need more apartments. If you are hesitating, I can tell you that the World Zionist Organization is behind this initiative. We will give you a guarantee. Please contact our call center at the WZO or on our website, and with G-d’s help, we will find a solution for many, many more families.”