Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service Responds to Community Needs After October 7  | Shalom Austin

Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service Responds to Community Needs After October 7 

Jewish Family Service, The Jewish Outlook

Apr 21, 2024

Yuval Edrey and his mother. Courtesy: Yuval Edrey

By Liron Ramon, Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service Case Manager

In times of crisis, the strength of a community shines through in its ability to come together and support those in need. For Israeli families seeking refuge in Austin, Texas, following October 7, the community has seen the essence of K’lal Yisrael (the unity of the Jewish people worldwide) and Kehilla (community) support. Through a personalized approach, awareness of diverse family dynamics, holistic strategy, and volunteer engagement, Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service has been a dedicated source of assistance and support. 

Understanding that each family arrives with its unique set of circumstances, JFS adopted an individualized approach to providing support. Recognizing the diverse needs and challenges faced by Israeli refugees, JFS offered personalized resources and guidance tailored to meet each family’s specific requirements. Whether navigating the complexities of resettlement, accessing essential services, or addressing issues stemming from past trauma, JFS ensured that every family received the attention and assistance they needed to rebuild their lives in an unfamiliar environment. 

Israeli refugee families come from varied backgrounds, each with its own challenges and experiences. From differing durations of stay to varying ages of children and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from past military service or exposure to conflict, the diversity of family dynamics requires a sensitive approach, empathy and understanding, to support and meet the unique needs of every individual and family unit. 

In dealing with the multiple challenges of refugees, JFS adopted a holistic strategy aimed at providing comprehensive support to Israeli families. By offering a range of services and assistance options, the JFS team ensured that families received the necessary support across various domains, including housing, childcare, transportation, financial assistance, and more. This approach not only addressed immediate needs but also helped foster long-term stability and self-sufficiency. 

Central to JFS’s efforts’ success is the invaluable contribution of volunteers from the community. Through their generosity and dedication, volunteers played a crucial role in our support network for Israeli refugees. From donating essential items such as clothing and baby gear to offering their time and skills in various capacities, hosting Shabbat dinners and playdates, volunteers significantly enriched the assistance provided to refugee families. 

One touching example of the impact of JFS’s work is the heartfelt letter from Yuval Edrey, an Israeli refugee who found support in Austin. Edrey’s letter speaks about the effect of JFS’s assistance provided in the form of rent support and household essentials. His words also emphasize the resilience and unity of the Jewish community, both in Israel and abroad, in the face of hardship. 

 Dear Shalom Austin Community, 

 My name is Yuval Edrey. I’m an Israeli who made my way to Texas, along with my mother, shortly after October 7, 2023.  On the morning of October 7, I was awoken by two missiles that landed 5-10 blocks away from me at my brother’s apartment in Tel-aviv. The shock was accompanied by the all-too-familiar siren noises. The mayhem, confusion, and adrenaline that ensued still feel like a horror movie to this day. 

 I resigned from my last job 2.5 years ago, and spent the majority of that time caregiving for my mom. Wanting to seek safety, I urged my family to leave the country as things were getting out of control. I was able to convince my mom, who suffers from PTSD and Parkinson’s (amongst other ailments), to fly with me to the US and stay with our family in San Antonio.  

When we arrived to Texas in late October, I felt a sense of overwhelm; between the arduous journey that separated my mom and I from the rest of the family in Israel, and the triggering events of October 2023. At this point, I was seeking a safe haven to begin decompressing and processing what had happened. It took me several months to simply begin this process. The adjustment to needing to speak English, the cultural differences, and allowing my body to understand that we are not in danger anymore have taken longer than expected. 

Jewish Family Services have been incredible in the support I was given. I am eternally grateful for the help that I received. This support included 2-months worth of rent, and some household essentials. Our healing journey will be exactly that, a journey. I am confident that our community: In Israel, Texas, and anywhere Jews reside, will remain united and resilient.  

We will prevail. We must embrace kindness, education and understanding over ignorance and hate. Let’s do our best to keep our head held high, be proud of our heritage and wear ourselves with determination. I can only hope that we will all learn to live together in peace one day, there simply is no alternative.  

I am thankful beyond words to each and every one of you. I cherish the kindness that was instilled upon me by the incredible community here in Austin. I look forward to getting back on my feet, humbled and with my head held high. I hope to stay in Austin, and to be able to pay it forward one day. 

Am Israel Chai! 


Now, over six months after October 7, JFS is pleased to report that most of the Israeli families helped are thriving. Many have secured new jobs, and some have even decided to return to Israel. While there are still a few who are facing challenges in finding their footing, JFS remains optimistic that they will overcome these obstacles with their continued support and assistance. 

Latest Posts

Community Joins Together for Meaningful Events

Community Joins Together for Meaningful Events

Shalom Austin, IAC, Israeli Scouts (Tzufim) and BBYO collaborate for a special teen event during Israel’s Yom Hazikron and Yom HaAtzmaut. Credit: Maayan Oved By Maayan Oved, IAC Austin Program Manager In May, when the community commemorated Israel’s Yom Hazikron and...