Immediately after the October 7th massacre, many Atlanta community members felt paralyzed in fear, not knowing what to do or how they could help. But Meir Matana, an Israeli native living in Atlanta for 15 years, had a quick realization: families in Israel wouldn’t be able to withstand their current environment for long.

“After the attack, families from affected areas were evacuated to hotels where they had to sleep in one room with two, three, or more children,” explained Meir. For many, this environment only added to the stress, and the need for these families to get a “breather” from Israel became especially apparent.

In response, Meir started a nonprofit called Mission: Embrace Israel and began fundraising so that he could bring Israeli families to Atlanta for a few weeks up to a few months to recuperate. He and a group of 50 volunteers arranged host families, school for the children, activities, day trips, and psychological care so that Israelis of all ages visiting would have the support they needed while in Atlanta.

Atlantans donated a lot more than dollars, explained Meir. People gave airline miles, cars, and vacation homes so that these families could easily get here and have comfortable accommodations.

So far, Meir’s organization has brought 15 families from Israel to Atlanta. And they are now entering the next wave of fundraising to hopefully bring a new group of families in need.

“This war isn’t over, and in some areas it’s becoming increasingly dangerous,” explained Meir. “Families still need this relief.”

Meir works closely Michele Hirsch, a passionate donor and volunteer with Mission: Embrace Israel who feels strongly that the American Jewish community feels more connected to Israel than ever and that together, we can make a big difference right here in Atlanta. “We [Israelis and American Jews] need compassion and love for one another and to see each other as family. We’re all Jewish and have to take care of each other, no matter where we’re from.”

We encourage you to make a gift to Mission: Support Israel via your donor-advised fund.