Heels in Israel, heart in Staten Island

Not over how odd it is to live in the Middle East and watch your North American hometown get knocked around by the Universe.

[Hylan Boulevard is a river… I used to cruise along Hylan for Staten Island Advance assignments…] 

For the past week, my heels have been in Israel, but my heart is in Staten Island. The forgotten New York City borough. I wish I could pick up and fly over and help people sort through their property… hand out warm clothes… pack food packages. Alas, it’s not to be, and all I can do is call my mother a few times a day and make a donation online and hope it helps.

Isn’t it supposed to be the opposite?

Thinking of my family and friends and neighbors in Staten Island, lower Manhattan, Queens, Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island, north of NYC…

There are probably tons of lists, but if you got here, this is a selection of online donation spots and volunteer mobilization [UPDATED Nov 6]:

  • Staten Island Assemblyman Matthew Titone’s Amazon Wishlist – purchase items directly c/o the assemblyman, who is taking care to deliver them to Staten Islanders in need (other local groups in NYC listed here).
  • Red Cross Disaster Relief – The American Red Cross response to Sandy is very large and will be very costly, affecting a massive area spanning much of the eastern half of the country. Financial donations help the American Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-HELPNOW or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • The Salvation Army Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts
  • Jewish Federation of North America: Hurricane Relief Fund
  • Tablet has a comprehensive list for helping schools, communities, social services, and blood donation centers.
  • Brooklyn Based also has a long list of links for volunteering/donating.
  • JCORPS volunteering and events.
  • LBNY Hurricane spreadsheet for donations and mobilizing volunteers.
Plus Israeli local efforts by expats:

There are also local efforts by stores, companies and newspapers… Pretty much a matter of Googling it.

Thinking of my hometown. If you know of more online donation efforts, please leave in comments.

1 in 4 Israeli elderly live below the poverty line (Shana Tova)

Quick shout-out to Ezrat Avot, in honor of the quickly-approaching Rosh Hashana, Jewish New Year…

Back in my old job, around the major holidays, we’d band together and as an office, collectively donate around 20,000 NIS to Jerusalem-based Ezrat Avot.

Even though we are no longer giving together, I do hope many of us continue the tradition. As a (currently) young person, I can’t help but feel the responsibility to ensure that our elders are taken care of in every way, especially hunger. One in four of Israel’s elderly live below the poverty line… 18.3% of Israel’s elderly are abused, mostly by family members and caregivers…

They took care of our parents and ourselves when we were helpless; how can we not do the same for them,with respect and dignity?

A lil more about the organization:

Ezrat Avot’s mission is to provide the services, resources and education necessary to enable Israel’s elderly to age in the comfort and dignity of their own homes and communities.

Read more about the Ezrat Avot backstory, and here’s where you can donate to aid the elderly across Israel  this holiday.

Start the year off righteous…

Giving blood for Yom Hazicaron + woman who needs platelets.

I figured I’d share this email I just sent to friends in the Jerusalem area, since the more people who can, the better:

Hey guys –

I meant to write this email to like two people and then I figured, why not let everyone know… I was thinking of donating blood in honor of Yom Hazicaron (thanks, Shira) and then my boss told me about a woman in Efrat who desperately needs a platelets donation from the right type (to battle her cancer)… Basically, at Hadassah Ein Karem in Jerusalem at the blood bank in the main building, they are collecting blood for testing for her; they will donate the blood anyway to those who need it, and then if you are the match, they will call you to take your platelets…

Her name is Paula Goldblum. You give her name so they know it’s for her testing (blood will be donated anyway, so you’re killing all kinds of birds with one stone). I want to go tomorrow or Wednesday, don’t necessarily need to go with someone, but I just thought if that sounds like something you’d want to do, go for it.

Have a wonderful Yom Haatzmaut.

A Passover bonus for everyone.

This is sweet. My company gave us our usual Passover bonuses in the form of gifts bought via Sderot, so that Sderot vendors make some money off of the deal as opposed to vendors elsewhere.

Since the population of Sderot has been suffering for years now, and business has suffered along with it, there has been a movement to purchase groceries, gifts, shoes, etc. within the city. A lot of people are doing this all over Israel, though it seems to be an especially Anglo thing.

I’m happy my company had the mind to share our Passover bonuses this way. Warm, fuzzy, Israeli, Jewish, happy.

King Gaydamak of Jerusalem.

Charity is good and all, and everyone likes a nice project now and again. But this is going a little far for a hobby, right? Walking through the streets of Jerusalem, I turn my head and see the giant face of Arkadi Gaydamak:

Gaydamak in Jerusalem

I guess it’s unnerving because no one really knows what the Russian-Israeli billionaire’s ultimate plan is; no one is that rich without an agenda, right?

In this advertisement, posted on the side of a Jerusalem Egged bus:

Jerusalem, you deserve more.

The new Bikur Holim Hospital: With faces to the future.

Gaydamak reaches beyond Jerusalem to Sderot, where now he is apparently investing 90 million shekel in fortifying the beleaguered city. Again, I think billionaires pretending to be Robin Hood is noble… And maybe I’m misled by Russian stereotypes…

But…