Mayor Doron at the JCRC Luncheon

Ramat HaNegev Mayor visits Colorado to share his thanks

Mar 26, 2024 | Article, Newsletter

Mayor Eran Doron from the Ramat HaNegev Regional Council recently visited Denver to update the Colorado community on the situation in Israel and to offer his thanks for the support that Ramat HaNegev has received from Colorado. Since October 7, JEWISHcolorado has sent more than $600,000 in aid directly to Ramat HaNegev. We sat down with the mayor to talk about the impact of Colorado’s partnership with Ramat HaNegev.

JEWISHcolorado sent financial support to Ramat HaNegev just 12 days following the attack of 10/7. What did that signal to you?

JEWISHcolorado responded very quickly with financial support, but just as important to us was the emotional support we felt from the Colorado community. At the time, we were feeling very isolated, very much alone, because we were not receiving any attention from the government in Israel. But the people of Colorado seemed committed to helping us. They felt that what had happened in Israel had happened directly to them. There were so many people wanting to know what they could do. It felt like the people in Colorado were sending us a huge hug.

Eran Doron with Rabbi Kolby Morris-Dahary of Congregation Har Mishpacha of Steamboat Springs.

Mayor Eran Doron and Rabbi Kolby Morris-Dahary of Congregation Har Mishpacha in Steamboat Springs

At its peak, how many evacuees from the Gaza envelope arrived in Ramat HaNegev?

At the highest number, we had 3,000 evacuees. Now we are focused on 57 families—that’s 280 people—who were living in the Kerem Shalom kibbutz and have been relocated to Ashalim in the Negev for up to two years. (Kerem Shalom is one of 29 Gaza envelope communities that were partially or entirely destroyed on October 7.)

How is the financial support from Colorado helpful to you as you face these unprecedented circumstances?

In the beginning, the funds were used for the immediate needs of evacuees—everything from clothes and shoes to toys. Some of these people arrived needing everything for daily life.

Boulder City Council Member Tara Winter with Mayor Eran Doron

Boulder City Council Member Tara Winter and Mayor Eran Doron

In the second phase, we used some of the funds to help create what we call “resilience activities.” These are activities led by volunteers so that evacuee parents and children can meet and talk with each other. They have lost everything that is familiar to them, and they need this support. It’s not something they can set up for themselves.

Now, more than five months have passed since the attack, and you have received four grants from JEWISHcolorado totaling $625,000.

Today, we are using the JEWISHcolorado support to create daily life for these evacuee families, particularly the ones from Kerem Shalom. We have set up temporary housing, created landscaping, and we are distributing small generators. We are building outdoor kitchens, setting up community activities, including Shabbat services. We are renovating school buildings, updating and building classrooms to educate evacuee children. We have used some funds toward buses to transport children to schools. We are providing support to evacuees who have lost their livelihood so they can learn new ways to support themselves.

Michael Osterman with Mayor Eran Doron

Michael Osterman and Mayor Eran Doron

With the help of JEWISHcolorado, we are creating a community for the families that fled Kerem Shalom so they can stay together and, we hope, someday return home.

Could you have ever imagined what you have been through since 10/7?

Every day, we realize there are so many needs that you could never expect. Nothing in the world could have ever prepared us for this situation. I just want to say a huge thank-you to everyone in Colorado who has felt our pain and has reached out to us.