By: Sam Nevins ‘18
After a semester of fundraising for Headstrong, an organization that helps American veterans suffering from PTSD, Va’adat Hesed has shifted the school’s focus towards fundraising for an Israeli organization: The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Survivors in Israel. The organization supports Holocaust survivors living in Israel by offering financial assistance, helping to set up medical appointments, providing computers for communication with family members, and much more. Many survivors living in Israel are impoverished, and this organization offers the crucial assistance needed to improve these survivors’ lives.
Every year the first semester cause addresses a domestic issue and the second semester focuses on something primarily affecting Israel. Senior Jamie Sutton, president of Va’adat Hesed, said that Heschel must support Israeli causes because “Israel is a central part of our school.”
Sutton explained that The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Survivors in Israel is particularly important because “40 holocaust survivors die every day. We [have] to do something about it.”
The issue should be a priority for Heschel students as so much of the student body have family members who survived the Holocaust. Junior Hesed Representative Sophia Daniels said, “We know that many people have connections to the Holocaust that we hope will motivate the school to be active in supporting this cause and helping us fundraise.”
How can students and faculty help raise money this semester? Daniels explained, “Hoops for Hesed is going to be our main fundraiser for this semester.” This will be in addition to the weekly Friday pizza sales, and “some other surprising fundraisers,” according to Daniels.
Some unnamed students have questioned why Hesed chose a semester cause without consulting the student body. In response, Sutton confessed, “We spent a lot of time making sure everyone would be comfortable with our cause, and I can confidently say that everyone in our school supports Holocaust survivors … Semester causes are usually decided without a vote, but for the past few semesters there has been some student input and voting. A lot of our decision to not have the student body vote is because we frankly didn’t have a lot of time to properly present the causes to the students, and we decided as a group that we should be able to make the decision since we were all elected to Hesed.”
Sutton added, “Anyone can always contact a Hesed rep about anything!”
Daniels elaborated, “Va’adat Hesed is always open to suggestions for any cause, drive, or even Hesed Day location. Since we didn’t get many suggestions for this cause, we thought that we should just choose it ourselves. This cause is something that we feel is urgent, as survivors are quickly dying – if we want to help them, it must be now.”