(BRIGHTON & MANCHESTER – 11.12.16) Now in its third year, the annual, do-it-yourself initiative known as IsrAction Day has been adopted by more Jewish communities in the UK – and around the world – than ever before.
IsrAction Day is an international grassroots campaign with three goals: standing up for Israel, beating the boycotts and giving support to the needy in local communities during the Christmas/Hanukah season. Achieved by purchasing Israeli or kosher goods in local supermarkets and donating them to the needy in one’s hometown, IsrAction Day will take place on 18 December throughout the UK.
Volunteers in London, Redbridge, Manchester, Brighton, Liverpool, Leeds and other locations around the UK have already begun to purchase non-perishable Israeli foodstuffs, which they will bring to collection centres, where still other volunteers will deliver to food banks and homeless shelters during the holiday season. Updates and logistics are posted daily on the IsrAction Facebook page. A ‘how-to’ guide for individuals and groups can be found on its web site: www.israction.org.
First launched in 2014, the campaign, IsrAction Day is the brainchild of two UK-based pro-Israel grassroots groups — Sussex Friends of Israel and North West Friends of Israel — and has since been adopted by individuals, synagogues, Jewish communal organisations and embassies worldwide.
Partnership organisations in the UK are the Office of the Chief Rabbi, the Embassy of Israel, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council, Zionist Federation, We Believe in Israel, StandWithUs UK, the Jewish Telegraph, and the Jewish Chronicle.
“This is a time of giving and charity, ” states co-chair Raphi Bloom, North West Friends of Israel. “It’s a perfect way for families to engage in a positive action. Go to a mainstream supermarket — frequently the targets of boycotts — buy Israeli goods and then donate them to Jewish and non-Jewish charities.”
Grassroots Friends of Israel groups up and down the country are taking part, with the Zionist Federation organising local community centres and synagogues around London and elsewhere, to act as drop-off points and distribution centres for donated products.
In London, drop-off points on IsrAction Day, Sunday 18 December are: Barnet Synagogue (2-4 pm); Borehamwood & Elstree Synagogue (9:30 am to 12 pm); Redbridge Jewish Community Centre (10 am to1 pm); Shaarei Tsedek North London Reform Synagogue (10:30 am to12:30 pm; Tapuach supermarket, Hendon (12 pm to 4 pm); and Redbridge Jewish Community Centre, Sinclair House (10 am to 1 pm).
In Manchester, the central drop off point is Manchester Maccabi on 18 Dec between 5-7 pm (the community is invited for pre-Chanukah hot dogs, latkes and donuts); with eight locations accepting donations in North and South Manchester throughout the week (for more information, see this Facebook link.
As well as in the UK, communities in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Germany, Belgium and Norway took part in last year’s event, giving a total of £150,000 worth of goods to the needy.
Organisers are confident that this year’s IsrAction Day will be even bigger. From Jerusalem and Los Angeles the StandWithUs organisation are rolling it out to their chapters and campuses across America, Canada and around the world.
Said Fiona Sharpe, co-chair of Sussex Friends of Israel, “It’s a way for us to do what we feel is the right thing during the holiday period. It’s a chance for people to get involved in Tikkun Olam, healing the world, within their own communities, while making sure that they also support Israeli products.”
“IsrAction Day harmonises with people’s core beliefs about Israel, about giving, about Chanukah and Christmas and doing a mitzvah that sheds a ray of light at this time of year,” added SFI’s Winston Pickett. “Everyone can participate. Their action will have a direct effect. ‘The reward of a good deed is the deed itself’: This epitomises IsrAction Day: Go out and do it.”