On the week when President Joe Biden traveled to Israel and Saudi Arabia to affirm this country’s relations with Israel, revive funding to the Palestinians, and secure favorable rates for oil from the Saudis, the Jewish community of West Hempstead was united in its support for Jews in Yehudah and Shomron.
“From recreation to education, medical equipment, scholarships, anything else you can think of,” said Scott Feltman, the Executive Director of the One Israel Fund. In his remarks to the nearly 200 supporters last Thursday, he spoke of his organization’s personal approach. “I don’t present them with a project. I ask what’s your interest.”
The event’s reception committee included the rabbanim of the Young Israel of West Hempstead, Beis Torah U’Tefillah, Anshei Shalom, Eitz Chayim, and Chabad of West Hempstead, underscoring unity in purpose among the shuls in their connection with Israel.
The hosts of the gathering, Alan and Clare Shulman, have known the organization for many years and visited Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron to personally offer their support. “Marc Provisor has taken us to many places with our two children. I remember the Sdeh Efraim farm where olive trees are grown. It is about keeping land that is Israeli national property from Palestinian encroachment,” Mrs. Shulman said. “We also visited a school and a pre-IDF academy. We delivered security cameras.”
Provisor is a resident of Shilo who serves as the organization’s security director and gives tours of its projects. He spoke of the pandemic travel restrictions as a blessing for communities across the Green Line. “Israelis love to travel and have become more connected to Yehudah and Shomron,” he said.
While international travel kept people at home during the height of the pandemic, Israelis from all walks of life sampled the region’s wine, hiked its mountains, and purchased its products. At the same time, residents of the region study and work within “Israel proper,” serving as representatives of their communities.
“My daughter is an artist. She attends the Betzalel Academy. The art community is very left-wing, but the kids from Yehudah and Shomron have a connection to the land, they stand up for it. They’re not all religious, but they get a certain strength from being in the heartland of Israel.”
The diversity of Jewish life in the territories was exemplified in a promotional video where American-born violinist Ariella Zeitlin played on a hilltop, vineyard, shopping center, and school, among other places. Her music video relates to the work of the One Israel Fund, which funds a variety of projects in security, education, healthcare, recreation, and community.
Feltman said that the public facilities built by the One Israel Fund benefit all residents of the territories, refuting accusations of apartheid. “We are building a dialysis center that offers three times what we need in Sha’ar Binyamin. The rate of kidney failure among Palestinians is very high.”
With more than 200,000 Jews living in 50 yishuvim north of Jerusalem, the hospital will greatly reduce their travel time in an emergency, or a routine appointment. Feltman said that the ambitious project, whose naming dedication is $25 million, with $10 million for the campus, is the result of the region’s booming Jewish population.
Provisor added that despite the lack of international recognition for Israel’s presence in the territories, support among Israelis runs high. “There are waiting lists of people wanting to move into these communities.”
By Sergey Kadinsky