By Deb Silverthorn
The family of Carol and Steve Aaron has made a lead gift toward a $1 million challenge donation to the Emergency Campaign for Israel of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. The historic gift would allow Federation to match all donations and meet its $5.5-million-dollar campaign goal to a fund directly benefiting its partners on the ground.
“We hope people will join us in stepping up in this time of crisis like we’ve never known before. The trauma of Oct. 7 and the days since is something we can’t imagine and something that will be carried for years,” said Carol Aaron. “Steve and I cannot and will not sit still. We are proud of all of our children for choosing to contribute so significantly.”
In the last 75 days, 240 hostages were taken; there have been more than 1200 Israelis killed and more than 10,039 injured. More than 10,500 rockets have been fired into Israel, more than 360,000 reservists are in service, more than 126,000 Israelis have been displaced and there have been 445 IDF casualties — 10 alone on Dec. 14.
“We are grateful and inspired by the leadership of the Aaron family at this critical time for Israel and the Jewish people,” said Igor Alterman, president and CEO of the JFGD, which is absorbing any administrative costs to ensure that every dollar raised goes directly to support the most critical current and long-term needs on the ground in Israel.
“Through Jewish Federations of North America, more than $700 million in donations have been made and more than $230 million allocated since Oct. 7. The focus is to get those dollars where they are needed the most as quickly as possible. The dollars collected here are being shared to many needs with allocations made to our Partnership2Gether region in the Western Galilee,” said Alterman. “We have many new donors to this effort and it’s apparent that our community, as I would expect, is concerned and understanding of the importance of giving.
“Donations, and the sincerest offerings of support, have been received community wide,” said Alterman, who has been visiting area synagogues, as well as interfaith communities, imploring them to meet the need for support and noting that support is being received most graciously.
The money raised is supporting nearly 120 organizations to provide basic needs, evacuation, housing respite and support for frontline communities, funds for victims of terror and trauma relief and psychosocial care. Also receiving assistance are emergency medical and health care services, home front mobilization, individuals in special populations including youth, elderly, those living with disabilities and marginalized populations.
Joining Carol and Steve Aaron are their children Todd, Nicole, Angela, Erica, Clay and their families.
“Our Federation has always believed in a collective approach to support our local agencies and individuals and around the globe,” said Angela Horowitz-French, a member of the Federation board of directors. “Now, we are fighting for the survival of Israel and together our family is answering the call. We encourage others to help take care of as many needs as possible.”
Todd Aaron added, “It is our profound honor and privilege to support Israel, her military and the first responders defending our freedom. We must step up at this dire time and always heed Israel’s call. Our freedom is at risk!”
“Every Jew feels an unbreakable bond to one another and it’s imperative as a collective Jewish people we do everything in our power to extinguish this nightmare Israel is facing,” said Clay Aaron. “Building a strong global Jewish community is paramount and together we can make a difference.”
Kenny Goldberg, chair of Dallas’ Emergency Campaign for Israel, credits the Aaron family for “once again providing selfless support and setting the example for us all.
“I can remember 30 years ago when we were raising money to help Jews in the former Soviet Union flee persecution through Operation Exodus,” said Goldberg. “We raised more than $6 million and that was in dollars of decades ago. We came together then; we must come together now and we appreciate all of the Aarons for setting the bar.”
To leverage the match of the Aaron family, J. David Heller, national campaign chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, is visiting Dallas-area hosted parlor meetings. The first such meeting took place Tuesday, Dec. 19, and Heller will return in January for additional such connections.
“The Jewish Federations campaign for Israel following the horrific attacks on Oct. 7 is unprecedented, raising more money in less time to support Israelis affected by the war than just about anything we’ve done in our history,” said Heller. “That effort has been successful in no small part because of the leadership we’ve seen in communities like Dallas, where the passion for Israel and great desire to step up and make a difference has been overwhelming and truly touching.”
The Dallas Federation provides consistent support to Israel through its Annual Community Campaign, coordinating through Jewish Federations of North America with primary partners including the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and World ORT.
After this campaign’s goal is met, which the Dallas Federation hopes to see happen in January, focus will return to the Annual Community Campaign, of which 34% of all donations — as in years past and per a formula of the Federation’s bylaws — continue to support Israel in ways necessary before Oct. 7 while additional funds will continue to be raised for needs since then.
“Please give whatever you can. It takes a village in this horrifying moment, in all the moments, to keep Israel secure,” said Carol Aaron. “It takes a village and we have a wonderful village right here.”
For more information and to donate to the JFGD’s Emergency Campaign for Israel, visit jewishdallas.org/crisis or call 214-361-3313.