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Israel, worldwide Jewry mobilize to help Haiti

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

NEW YORK (Press Release)–Israeli and Jewish aid organizations are mounting emergency relief efforts and are calling for donations to help the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, where more than 100,000 people are feared dead and millions affected by the widespread destruction. The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid (IsraAID) dispatched a search-and-rescue team to Haiti. The coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish organizations, IsraAID was also considering sending a field hospital, including doctors and medical equipment, as well as humanitarian aid.

IsraAID and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are funneling support into Haiti. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti in the wake of this overwhelming disaster, and as we did following Hurricane Gustav in 2008, JDC will leverage its strong partnerships in the region to respond quickly and compassionately to the needs of those affected,” Steven Schwager, JDC’s chief executive officer, told JTA. “Now and in the months to come, JDC will provide both immediate relief as well as long-term assistance to help the Haitian people rebuild their lives.” Money can be donated to that effort through www.jdc.org.

The Jewish Federations of North America is coordinating with the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief to assist victims of natural or man-made disasters on a nonsectarian basis. The coalition is managed by the JDC, which is the Jewish Federations’ foreign aid agency, and consists of organizations including the Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, World ORT, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, AJWS and American Jewish Committee, among others.

The American Jewish World Service is also collecting donations for its Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund at www.ajws.org/haitiearthquake.”We are assessing where the gaps in service are and putting a process in place to help specific communities that might not be immediately served otherwise,” the group’s vice president for programs, Aaron Dorfman, told ‘Haaretz’, adding: “Because of the economic and political situation in Haiti, disasters like this have devastating consequences throughout the country. Our long-standing partnerships with grassroots organizations in Haiti allow us to reach the poorest and most remote populations with the speed necessary to save lives.”

Canadian Jewish Congress President Mark J. Freiman and CEO Bernie M. Farber communicated the following message in a letter to the Haitian chargé d’affaires in Ottawa: “On behalf of the Jewish community of Canada, we express our deep sorrow on the tremendous loss of life and damage from the earthquake in Haiti. We grieve with you and our fellow Canadians of Haitian origin at this sad time and we extend our condolences to the families of the victims. We pray for a complete recovery of those hurt or ill as a result of this terrible natural disaster and for the expeditious rebuilding of the devastated lands.”

“You will be interested to know that in response to the crisis, United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Greater Toronto and Combined Jewish Appeal of Montreal have established funds for humanitarian relief aid to the afflicted areas… We sincerely hope that this will assist in relieving the human suffering experienced in Haiti.” The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto set up a special site for donations to IsraAID at https://www.ujadonations.com/login.asp?destinationsite=donations&destinationid=33. Alternatively, donors can call (+1) 416 635 2883.

B’nai B’rith International is also funneling money to Haiti through IsraAID at https://secure.ga1.org/05/web_relief_donations.

With an average per capita income of US$ 3.60 per day, Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Thus, its population is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, such as this massive earthquake. Haiti has a tiny Jewish population of around 25, most of which live in the capital Port-au-Prince. Israel’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who also serves Haiti, said on Wednesday morning that the Embassy had not been able to reach Jewish families in Haiti as the telephone network had broken down.

Meanwhile, the actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie said they would donate US$ 1 mililon through their foundation to help the victims.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

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