Beth El-Atereth Israel $50,000 Contribution Makes Possible OU Israel Sderot Playground/Bomb Shelter

05 Nov 2007


Note to Editors: Although this is a story about a synagogue in the Boston-area, it sets an example for what synagogues can do everywhere to assist the beleaguered people of Sderot.

The Orthodox Union in Israel announced today that thanks to a generous contribution of $50,000 from the congregants of Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel in Newton Centre, MA, an OU synagogue, it will now be able to expand its Makom Balev emergency relief efforts in Sderot, the Israeli community constantly bombarded by Kassam rockets. The donation will be used to renovate a second Makom Balev center, operated out of a bomb shelter, which the Seymour J. Abrams OU Jerusalem World Center recently obtained from the city’s government.

The synagogue’s donation will supplement OU’s Sderot Shabbat campaign, held in June, which raised more than $345,000 to support OU Israel’s programs in the city.

Makom Balev (A Warm Place in Your Heart) is OU Israel’s youth program, which seeks to develop the social and religious identities of Israeli children. It has many centers throughout Israel, and in Sderot serves a special function by allowing many children to seek shelter when the Kassam rockets begin to fall.

The new bomb shelter is approximately 1,000 square feet and will include renovated indoor space with a kitchenette; games and toys for all age levels; a ping pong table; a library with Jewish and secular texts; a large screen TV with a DVD for videos and video games; and computers. Most significantly it will include an above-ground playground with an easy way for the children to run inside when Code Red sounds. It will be available for use in the beginning of 2008.

But funding was needed to make this playground/bomb shelter a reality. Once again this year, Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel came through for an OU Israel program. In past years, the Beth El-Atereth Israel community has generously contributed to expand OU Israel’s Pearl and Harold M. Jacobs Jerusalem Outreach Center–Zula program, which works with youth at risk.

“We as a community are concerned about the welfare of our fellow Jews living in Israel. The new Makom Balev bomb shelter is more than just a building and a structure. It will help to support and uplift the spirits of those who are on the front lines of the battle for the survival of the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” declared Rabbi Gershon Segal, rabbi of Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel.

“We see the well-being of the Jewish people in general as being intertwined with the well-being of Eretz (Land of) Yisroel and Medinat (State of) Yisroel,” Rabbi Segal said.

According to Rabbi Avi Berman, Director-General of OU Israel, “Rabbi Gershon Segal and the whole Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel community have once again demonstrated the true meaning of Kol Yisroel Arevim Zeh Ba Zeh (‘All Israel must look out for one another’).”

“Six thousand miles away from Newton Centre, the children and adults of Sderot, while being bombarded with missiles, can be comforted by the fact that there are communities such as Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel that truly love and care about them,” Rabbi Berman continued.

The upcoming OU Thanksgiving Mission to Israel, November 19-25, will include a visit to Sderot.

For more information on how to support OU Israel Sderot initiatives and on the OU Thanksgiving Mission to Israel contact Allyson Gur-Aryeh at or 212-613-8124 or contribute online at