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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Certain individuals leave an impact in this world long after they are gone. Jack Flamholz was one of those people. After his passing in 2016, his wife, Beverly, discovered some extraordinary projects Jack had mapped out but never had the chance to complete. One of those projects was a local water sustainability program that his family has since developed in his memory.

Beverly continues to look for opportunities to perpetuate Jack’s legacy. In commemoration of his third yahrtzeit, the Jack Flamholz Sustainability Project, in collaboration with IsraAID, will present a two-pronged event addressing global crises and emergency response for adults and high school students throughout New Jersey.

Founded in 2001 by a group of Israeli humanitarians, IsraAID helps people worldwide overcome crises through emergency response, providing vital support to help them recover from catastrophe and restore a sustainable living environment. Since its inception, IsraAID has responded to disasters in more than 51 countries, sending search and rescue teams, medical crews, engineers and mental health experts.

According to Beverly, most people are aware that Israel is often the first on site for any emergency or crisis in the world. What they don’t know is that IsraAID is the organization behind the astounding work on the ground. Hosting this event to educate people and expose them to both the need and the solution is what she aims to accomplish. “Dedicating my time and money to an organization that does so much for mankind is essential to me and would have been important to my late husband as well,” she said.

The event will feature two components: a lecture by IsraAID CEO Navonel Glick and an interactive workshop for high school students simulating real-life disasters and response plans.

Glick, a dynamic leader in Israel and abroad, handles day-to-day leadership and oversees the general management of the organization. Prior to this role, Glick served as programs director for IsraAID and was responsible for leading disaster-response missions around the globe. In 2016, Glick was presented the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Spirituality.

Glick will walk the audience through stages of disaster and explain how IsraAID responds. When disaster strikes, many nations around the world are quick to send help. However, after a few weeks, most organizations move on to the next problem and take their funding with them. IsraAID remains on site, understanding it is then that the real work begins. “We move from direct services to capacity building,” said Glick. “We partner with other organizations and governmental help to focus on development and long-term sustainability.”

IsraAID is an apolitical organization that provides emergency response to anyone in need no matter who or where. Glick wants people to partner with IsraAID because of the talent and professionalism they represent, not because they are Jewish. “It’s not about Israel advocacy,” Glick emphasized. “We are an organization that comes out of Israel and draws upon the knowledge and the experience of the state of Israel and by extension the Jewish people.”

In the United States, IsraAID works hard to educate the next generation about their responsibility to humanitarian causes and dealing with emergency response. “It is critical to teach young people about the effects of disaster and how humanitarian organizations like IsraAID work to help communities in crisis,” said Beverly. For this reason, she believes it is necessary to target high school and college students who can prioritize helping others as an important part of life from an early age.

“Engaging young people who are the future of the world and making them globally conscious individuals is critical,” added Glick.

Batya Klein of Englewood recently worked with IsraAID on what she described as a life-changing mission. She is a designer by trade, and her friend and colleague Debbie Levovitz asked her to volunteer her design services for a project in Greece renovating an old and dilapidated community center immersed in a refugee settlement. “The inspirational part of the project was working side by side with these refugees who spoke different languages and had never done this type of work before, yet wholeheartedly dedicated themselves to the job,” said Batya. “Everyone involved took real ownership and felt proud of the development.”

Batya also had an opportunity to talk to many refugees who appeared to have negative impressions about Israelis. “This project completely changed that viewpoint,” she said. After witnessing the provisions and volunteer effort provided by IsraAID, there was no longer a doubt that Israel is a real friend.

Today, thanks to IsraAID and private donors, the community center is completely renovated with beautiful classrooms, a multi-purpose room and safe spaces for kids to learn and play.

IsraAID seeks professionals such as doctors, nurses, administrators and engineers who possess skills that would make them excellent volunteers for the organization. Understandably, the same set of people cannot always be relied on for assistance and therefore a rotation is necessary. For those who cannot volunteer their time, helping through financial support is equally important.

Beverly hopes this event will increase community awareness and infuse the idea of tikkun olam that was so paramount to her husband throughout his life. The event will take place on September 22, 7:30 p.m., at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, 389 West Englewood Avenue. For more information or to register, please visit https://tinyurl.com/y52zg2zs.

By Andrea Nissel