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San Diegans look to help Israelis affected by war

Posted at 10:16 AM, Oct 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-16 13:16:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As the conflict in the Middle East continues, a group of philanthropists in San Diego are doing their best to provide support and protection to Israelis.

The Gaza envelope is the area of Israeli land within a little more than four miles of the Gaza Strip.

Bomb shelters are all over the envelope, which have less protection than areas of Israel that are further away from Gaza.

"If a siren goes off, and you're in the Gaza envelope area, you have 15 seconds to get into a bomb shelter. So they have to be strategically placed near playgrounds and other areas," Dr. Sol Lizerbram said.

Lizerbram, who lives in San Diego with his wife, Lauren, is the president of Jewish National Fund USA. He and Lauren have worked with the charity to make the shelters more welcoming for kids.

"By painting them, they take away some of that fear from the children," Sol said.

"When you see a concrete bomb shelter near a playground, it's ominous-looking. It's scary. It doesn't look inviting. These beautified bomb shelters take the fear away from little kids," Lauren added.

The couple donated a shelter that features art picked out by their grandchildren. One side of a beautiful shelter has a San Diego Padres logo on the collar of a spray-painted dog.

"It brings the families of San Diego together with the families in the Gaza envelope," he said.

With the recent violence in the region, Jewish National Fund-USA is also looking to raise $10 million in the next 30 days, hoping to send immediate aid to people living in Israel. Lizerbram said the organization is also working to relocate people right now who live in the envelope.

"Whether they're Bedouin, Druze, Christian Muslim, or Jewish, if they are citizens of Israel, we provide support," San Diego Jewish National Fund President Jacqui Schneider said.

Schneider said Jewish National Fund Shelters that have been built across the country likely saved lives during the recent conflict.

"That's what keeps me going," she said of her work. "It makes me want to continue the work that we started."

Right now, the organization is focusing its attention on helping people affected by the war.

"They want to rebuild their communities, and that can only happen with money, blood, sweat, and tears," she said.

Jewish National Fund USA says 100% of donations made at will go toward directly helping Israelis.