Act Now for Israel – and give to secure its future during a time of unprecedented crisis

By Andrew Adler
Community Editor

Volunteers packing emergency food boxes for Latet,, an Israeli non-profit aid organization (Photo by Yakir Amos)

Confronting one of their gravest challenges in generations, Jews from Louisville and across the U.S. are responding the way they always have: by joining together as one people and declaring that evil will not stand.  

Shortly after the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, Jewish Federations of North America announced an emergency campaign to raise $500 million in aid to the nation. Louisville’s share comes to about $1.5 million in an overall effort that raised a remarkable $390 million within days of the initial announcement.  

“This is why we do what we do, why we are who we are,” says Sara Klein Wagner, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Louisville. “We’re here not only for day-to-day needs and celebrating the joys of being Jewish, but to take care of the Jewish people wherever they may be.”  

At the core of everything, Wagner emphasizes, “we believe in a sovereign Israel and a Jewish homeland. And this is a moment where the people of Israel are in a crisis like we’ve never seen before. We’ve seen wars, but never an attack like this,” when Hamas terrorists stormed over the Gaza-Israel border and murdered more than 1,400 men, women and children – most of them civilians – wounding an estimated 3,300 others and kidnapping upward of 200 innocents ranging from infants to the elderly.  

“Every Jewish Federation has already begun raising significant funds to provide for the needs of the people, families and communities impacted,” JFNA says. “The funds will be divided, as needed, between urgent humanitarian needs, such as medical supplies and equipment and housing, and longer-term rebuilding and rehabilitation, ranging from rebuilding homes and infrastructure trauma counseling.”  

Louisville’s Jewish community has a long history of stepping up in times of acute need. Wagner recalled how Louisville raised funds to support Operation Exodus’s 1990 initiative to resettle Russian Jews in Israel, and Operation Solomon to airlift more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in May of 1991.  

More recently, when the call went out “for Louisville to resettle a contingent of new arrivals,” Wagner added, “we far exceeded the goal we were given as a community – and I anticipate we’ll exceed the goal we’ve been given for this campaign. That’s what we do when people come together.”  

Wagner acknowledges that the emergency fund raising comes just as the Louisville Federation is launching its own annual campaign, which this year aims to raise a minimum of $2 million. There’s a key difference, however: The JFNA emergency campaign needs its donations immediately, while pledges to the Louisville Federation’s annual campaign aren’t due until December 31, 2024.  

Despite the overlap between the two initiatives, Wagner believes that local donors appreciate the extraordinary nature of the emergency fund-raising, and will continue to support the Louisville Federation’s annual campaign that benefits a tremendous range of area needs.  

She points out, too, how JFNA is uniquely positioned to efficiently raise distribute funds.  

“We’ve had relationships and partnerships with people on the ground who’ve been doing work for over 75 years, and even before the state was created. We are connected to the existing infrastructure and its hospitals and trauma centers. These aren’t strangers. That’s why I feel confident this is the quickest way to make sure funds will be allocated to those who need it the most. Because 100 percent of the dollars raised both here in Louisville and sent through JFNA are going to help humanitarian needs on the ground – making sure the most vulnerable, who don’t have the time to fund-raise on their own, will get what they need.”  

“It is a major task,” acknowledges Alan Engel, a veteran of numerous Louisville Federation projects on behalf of Israel, “but the community has the wherewithal to do it. We just have to make the case – and the case is survival.”  

To donate to the JFNA’s emergency campaign and learn about other resources for information and action, go online at 



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