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Shutafut Organizations: Peace and Justice

Every day thousands of people in Israel and Palestine work hard, take risks, and shine brightly in an effort to bring about a more just and peaceful future for everyone living throughout these ancient lands. Often their efforts are not given the attention and media spotlight they deserve. Among the organizations listed below, you’ll find many opportunities for your communities to make connections, meet peacebuilders, and get involved in the work to forge pathways of peace and justice. 

 


Leket Israel

Logo of American Friends of Leket Israel - the National Food Bank
One third of all food produced in Israel is wasted; at the same time, 20% of Israelis live below the poverty line. This paradox led in 2003, to the creation of Leket Israel, today the country’s National Food Bank and largest food rescue network. In 2021, Leket Israel will source and rescue an estimated 22,340 tons (49,260,000 lbs.) of fresh produce and prepared meals to alleviate food insecurity throughout Israel. Leket feeds 200,000 Israelis in need from all backgrounds through its partnership with 240 nonprofit organizations (NPOs). The organization works from a central logistics center near Kfar Saba, operates 20 food transport vehicles, employs 110 staff members and mobilizes tens of thousands of volunteers annually in its programs to feed the hungry.

Pro-Environment: Leket Israel makes efficient use of Israel’s food resources, while reducing the quantity of food sent to rot in garbage dumps. The organization is certified “Greenhouse Energy Efficient” and is carbon footprint smart.

Collaborative: 1,000+ food producers (farmers, hotels, the Israeli army and more) supply excess produce and meals to Leket Israel; the food then goes to nonprofits and schools in over 70 cities throughout Israel.

Volunteerism: Tens of thousands of people from Israel and abroad volunteer annually in Leket Israel’s food rescue activities; of these 50% are children and young adults.

Diversity: Leket Israel employs a diverse mix of veteran Israelis, new immigrants, Muslim Arabs and Bedouins, ensuring equal access to professional development and extensive social benefits.=

Food Safe and Professional: As an umbrella organization, Leket Israel supports nonprofits through nutrition education, capacity building, and food safety projects to enhance their professional standards.

Global Stewardship: Leket Israel is the Israeli representative of the Global Food Banking Network (GFN), an organization that incorporates food banks from throughout the world to share information and provide training and guidance.

three workers at soup kitchen serving food
Leket Israel’s strategic priorities include: a) Provision of assistance to vulnerable populations from all sectors of society regardless of background, gender, or religion; b) Waste reduction, environmental protection, and the best use of resources through food rescue; b) Prevention of waste and the ecological damage it creates; c) Joint communal responsibility through volunteerism; d) Enhancement of healthy nutrition through the provision of fresh produce and protein rich meals; e) Supporting the health and well-being of the poor, including the physical and emotional well-being, and academic success of children at risk; f) Promotion of acceptable NPO professional standards to provide quality and dignified services to the needy. 

Current major plans for the organization over the coming 4-5 years include: (a) To significantly expand food rescue output while striving for further cost efficiency; (b) To move to a larger logistics center to facilitate growth; (c) To continue working with government ministries to promote changes to public policy regarding food waste; (d) To continue to invest in research and become the foremost authority in Israel on food waste and food security; and (e) To further study the effects of Leket Israel’s food sourcing and provision on recipients’ general health and wellbeing.

Covid-19 restrictions, including three lockdowns, have led to negative economic growth in Israel and double-digit unemployment with 80,000 businesses declaring bankruptcy.  Bank of Israel figures indicate that those most affected are the unskilled, young families, and mothers working in part time or casual positions.  Unfortunately, a new stratum of the poor is developing, many seeking help from NPOs for the first time. Leket Israel’s staff has worked hard to meet the needs of Israel’s growing poor population. At the height of the pandemic’s first wave, the organization added 120 NPOs to its recipient list (53 of whom were municipal welfare agencies) and recipient numbers increased to over 200,000 people during the past year. 

 

Leket Israel will continue to ensure a continuous flow of food to those in need in 2021.  Highlights of goals for next year include:  a) The distribution of 21,500 tons (47,300,000 lbs.) of produce, an estimated increase of 19%; b) To rescue an estimated 1,400,000 meals in 2021 (similar to 2020 output); c) Meal purchase will continue to supplement rescue activity with an estimated 235,000 nutritious, budget meals to be purchased for the year; d) The organization will reassess and rationalize its NPO recipient list with the goal of servicing 250 NPOs; and e) Leket Israel will continue to lobby the Departments of Finance, Agriculture, Social Welfare and the Environment, promoting food rescue as the most cost-efficient way to address nutritional insecurity.

 

How can Reconstructionists and others engage with the organization either while in Israel or abroad?

Synagogues and Congregants

  • Synagogues may request a representative from Leket Israel to lead a virtual presentation. This may be interactive and related to a specific topic of the synagogue’s choosing — Leket Israel ties in well with many parashot, holidays and themes (hunger, food justice baal taschit, Tu B’shvat, Shavuot, etc.). In the past, many synagogues have used a presentation to kick off a campaign to help fund a special project (for ex: providing fresh rescued produce to a needy family for an entire year — cost is $250/family. Naming rights to fund critical vehicle operating expenses begin at about $2,500). 
  • Encourage participation in one of Leket Israel’s nationwide synagogue holiday campaigns—Matanot L’evyonim, mishloach manot or cards for Purim; Maot Chitim for Pesach; Yizkor appeals; or our Rosh Hashanah campaign. Support and materials provided by Leket Israel. A dedicated fundraising page can be created for you to share.

Religious School: 

  •  Engage students through Leket Israel’s professionally designed educators’ curriculum that challenges students to think about food access, poverty, and nutritional insecurity through a Jewish lens (curriculum provided by Leket Israel on request, free of charge to synagogues). Leket Israel can provide truck-shaped Tzedakah boxes and other materials.

B’nai Mitzvah:

  • Encourage kids to choose Leket Israel for their bar or bat mitzvah project. 
  • Leket Israel staff can help craft a personalized project with families and provide materials. 
  • Kids can create their own personalized Leket Israel fundraising page and/or include an insert in their invitation about making a contribution to Leket Israel in honor of their simcha. 
  • If the Bar/Bat mitzvah will be celebrated in Israel, spend a few hours volunteering on the fields or at the Leket warehouse.

 

Volunteering In Israel:
(Note: Volunteerism has resumed in limited numbers)

  • Sort Produce at Leket Israel’s Logistics Center: Volunteer at Leket Israel’s main logistics center and warehouse near Kfar Saba in central Israel, and help sort and package produce in preparation for distribution to Leket’s non-profit partners. This provides a fascinating insight into the heart of Leket Israel’s operations. 
  • Glean with Project Leket in Israel  Picking fruits and vegetables for distribution to Israel’s needy is a unique and meaningful experience. Connect with the Land of Israel, while at the same time giving to others. Project Leket is an outdoor hands-on activity, offered year-round, and an excellent option for families or large groups

 

Direct Contact Information

Elena Rosenbaum, elena@leket.us, (201) 331-0070 x2
https://www.leket.org/en/

 

 


Breaking the Silence

Logo of Breaking the Silence - black text in green square brackets
The foundation of our organization is the testimonies given by over 1,200 former IDF soldiers (and counting) who served in the occupied territories, that our research department has collected, verified and published. The published testimonies are the basis for our educational work in which we, soldiers who served in occupied territories, give presentations about our experiences and how the occupation functions. Our staff of testifiers also leads tours to Hebron and the South Hebron Hills to expose the public through their own eyes to the reality of the long term military control and to meet with Palestinian residents who live that reality daily. Our media and advocacy teams work to connect journalists to testifiers and to developments on the ground in the occupied territories and are constantly publishing posts and reports online and across the social media platforms based on our testimonies and recent developments on the ground.

Our goal is to influence the Israeli public, the Jewish diaspora and the international community to work towards ending the occupation through civil and political action. We believe it is of paramount importance to understand what the occupation is and how soldiers enforce its policies in order to effectively work towards ending the occupation. Perhaps because we were part of the occupation ourselves while serving in the IDF we have been targeted by vicious campaigns by right wing groups who support annexation and believe the occupation is justified and necessary. This makes it difficult for us to reach key target audiences both in Israel and abroad who are in a position to make a significant impact on the reality on the ground.

standing man speaking to a group of people seated on the grass in front of him. Buildings with Jerusalem stone and olive trees stand in the background
We partner and collaborate with a wide variety of organizations, movements and groups in Israel, in the occupied territories and abroad to amplify voices against occupation and de facto annexation. On our tours we bring participants to meet partners in a number of communities in the South Hebron Hills like Susya, A-Tuwani and Umm al-Khair as well as Youth Against Settlements in Hebron. We collaborate closely with a wide variety of organizations opposed to the Israeli occupation. One example of such a collaboration is a report and campaign about home invasions we did together with Yesh Din and Physicians for Human Rights called A Life Exposed. We also partner with many progressive groups, movements and organizations in Israel and abroad. Some highlights of recent partnerships include leadership programs focused on the occupation we have run for Hashomer Hatzair alumni in Israel and in Europe and a virtual campus tour we did during the current academic year with over 20 J Street U chapters.

 

How can Reconstructionists and others engage with the organization either while in Israel or abroad?

Invite your friends, family and communities to participate in a tour to see the reality of the occupation first hand or invite us to present in person or virtually to your congregation or institution. We do occasionally do speaking tours abroad and are always looking to make an impact wherever we go but the best way to engage is to come see the reality for yourself, in person or virtually, and share the testimonies and research we publish widely especially with those who are in a position to make a difference on the ground. 
 

Direct Contact Information

Benzi Sanders benzi@bts.org.il +972-52-2442-800

 

Additional Info

We are dedicating to fighting for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians where the IDF is not used to militarily occupy Palestinians. We are eager to work together with partners in the Jewish diaspora to raise awareness and to garner support for ending the occupation which in our view is fundamentally opposed to Jewish ethics.

 


Standing Together

Hebrew and Arabic text meaning "Standing Together"
Standing Together is a home for activism. We do that by developing local chapters across the country, and by offering support for various causes, both locally and nationally to partner organizations and organized groups. Our ability to organize nationally acts as a significant multiplier of our power. The more people that join, and the more circles we are able to form - the greater our power. And each new cause we commit to supporting, bolsters support for other causes. This is a self-sustaining process - the more individuals who identify Standing Together as their political home, the greater the scope of our activity, and more people choose to shake off the despair and join. This is, in practice, is the beauty of our motto - “Where there is a struggle, there is hope”.

Our goals for the upcoming months in 2021 include building power through enlarging and diversifying our membership base, and the development of a broad spread of local activist circles throughout the country. We currently have 8 local chapters, 7 student chapters, and 2 themed national chapters: The Peace Chapter that leads initiatives against the occupation and for peace, and our Climate Chapter which is leading the Israeli Green New Deal alongside other partner organizations. With over 2700 monthly sustaining members and tens of thousands of supporters and activists, we are developing effective methods for training staff, organizing members and activists, and harnessing technologies and methods to mobilize people around our campaigns in the most effective way. 

large street march of people holding purple signs and flags with organization's logo
By building this large organizational capacity, we will contribute towards ​establishing​ ​Standing​ ​Together​ ​as​ ​the​ ​leading​ ​grassroots​ ​movement​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Israeli​ ​Left, united around a common vision. This will be accompanied not only by utilizing our capacity to organize and mobilize, but also by coalescing our membership around a common Left Vision for Israel, which will include socio-economic justice, achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace through ending the Occupation, and defending democratic rights and promoting equality inside Israel society. 

 

How can Reconstructionists and others engage with the organization either while in Israel or abroad?

As a grassroots movement, Standing Togethers’ vast majority of activities are within Israel. However, we always love to engage with organizations and individuals overseas to talk about our work, have collaborative learning sessions, and participate in panels. We also offer internship and fellowship opportunities to those interested and we see fit to work with us (remotely or physically). 

 

Direct Contact Information

Sally Abed, sally.abed@standing-together.org, Relations Coordinator and elected member of the national leadership

 

Additional Information

Standing Together is the only grassroots Jewish-Arab political movement in the Israeli Left that is building methodological training in the theories of community organizing towards social change. We understand that mass protests and mobilizations are not sustainable in the long-run without building power through organizing people - otherwise, they risk fizzling out without making any impact. We also know that it is vital to build the understanding that the different groups protesting have a common interest and a shared struggle. Through our organizing, we provide people with an alternative vision, tools to lead more efficiently, and create joint actions around struggles that are shared by all of us. 

Organizing to build power and create sustainable change is especially crucial today, given that we are in the midst of the worst health and economic crisis of our generation. And all the while, we are being led by the most dysfunctional government in our country’s history. We must replace this prime minister and his government, but that alone is not enough. We also have to replace the very foundations of the political and economic system in this country which have allowed an unrepresentative elite to rule through division and exploitation with no regard for us - the people who live here.

 


Women Wage Peace

Hebrew and Arabic text meaning Women Wage Peace
WWP acts on the recognition that, in the words of its earliest mentor, 2011 Nobel Peace prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, “in the world that we live in, peace is possible only when women, women of integrity and faith, stand up for the future of their children.” (See more of Gbowee’s remarks in Prayer of the Mothers, a brief video chronicling WWP’s first major event, the March of Hope, viewed on YouTube over 6.5 million times worldwide since 2016.) WWP continues to refine its non-hierarchical structure, distributing most of its work among thousands of volunteers, organized within a framework of regional teams as well as mission-specific teams such as Government Engagement, Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, Media, Digital Communication, Special Projects, Strategy, Diversity, Collaboration with Palestinian Women, among many others. 

large march of women along desert road leading up to a building atop ahill
WWP began in 2014 with a thousand women from all over the country converging by train on Sderot, a frequently targeted city on the Gaza border, after the 50-day Gaza War. A fifty-day shared fast, commemorating the previous summer’s war, followed outside the Prime Minister’s Jerusalem residence in 2015. In 2016, over 30,000 women, men and children joined segments of WWP’s first yearly peak event, The March of Hope, including 3,000 Palestinian women from the West Bank (viewed, to date, over 29 million times worldwide, in a 40-second clip by Australian broadcaster SBS.) In addition, solidarity events were held worldwide. WWP’s first major collaboration began then, with female Knesset members establishing the Women’s Caucus for Peace and Security at our urging. A second major event, the 2017 Journey to Peace, attracted worldwide attention (including 9.1 million views to date of an Al Jazeera FB clip on the march) as well as the ongoing support of women ambassadors and diplomats stationed in Israel – as did its successor, WWP’s First International Congress in 2018, designed specifically for younger women. 

During 2019, WWP gathered advice and support from security experts and public figures across the political spectrum for its first legislative initiative, after which the Political Alternatives First bill was introduced in the Knesset, requiring national decision-makers in routine times and during emergencies (1) to examine political alternatives for resolving conflicts, in coordination with representatives from civil society, before resorting to military options and (2) to allocate time, funds and personnel for detailed examination of political/diplomatic solutions to conflicts of all sizes. (The bill’s sponsors are Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli and MK Emilie Moatti.) In 2020, WWP joined other women’s organizations demanding the inclusion of influential women in Israel’s COVID-19 Advisory Commission. In addition, WWP collaborated with Women Lawyers for Social Justice and other organizations to mark the 20th anniversary of UN Resolution 1325. In early 2021, despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, WWP also mounted its first UN-sponsored event as part of the 65th Commission on the Status of Women after being granted permanent NGO consultative status by the United Nations. The movement is currently preparing for its most far-reaching project yet, Partners for Peace  – a year-long series of collaborative Israeli-Palestinian women’s organizing, leading to a peace summit for political leaders from both sides in Aqaba, September 2022. 

 

 

How can Reconstructionists and others engage with the organization?

Members of WWP’s Foreign Relations team are available to consult with your group to customize events and projects that promote solidarity (see, for example, https://womenwagepeace.org.il/en/solidarity-events/) while suiting both your locale and target population(s).  We especially seek help in promoting Partners for Peace  – a year-long series of collaborative Israeli-Palestinian women’s organizing joined by women worldwide, leading to a peace summit for political leaders from both sides in Aqaba, September 2022. 

 

Direct Contact Information

 

Additional Information

 In addition to the WWP website, you may want to read “Why Women and Why Now?” by WWP activist and Reconstructionist rabbi Donna Kirshbaum.

For current initiatives, recent and upcoming events such as Partners for Peace, and a glimpse of the meteoric rise of the movement, also see:

Facebook for English speakers. https://www.facebook.com/womenwagepeaceenglish

YouTube channel.  https://www.youtube.com/user/WomenWagePeace, featuring brief but moving clips with English subtitles such as: 

  • Tel Gama, at the Gaza border during incendiary balloon attacks 
  • Ready for Peace, a human poster created by hundreds of members in Yafo/Tel Aviv
  • A 26-second promotion of the Journey to Peace, showcasing our diversity 

Twitter, in Hebrew.  https://twitter.com/WomenWagePeace
Instagram, in Hebrew.  https://www.instagram.com/womenwagepeace/
 

The Reconstructionist Network