By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
September 28, 2017
In less than four weeks, we’ve seen the world turn upside down for millions of people in the U.S., the Caribbean and in Mexico. First, Hurricane Harvey – one of the most devastating storms on record – delivered unfathomable damage to Houston – with some of its worst blows to the heart of the Jewish community. No sooner did Jewish Federations across the nation set up the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, Irma slammed into Florida; earthquakes took hundreds of lives and left thousands homeless in Mexico; and Hurricane Maria once again pounded the Caribbean leaving Puerto Rico with catastrophic damage and in humanitarian crisis across the island.
Now, as the Jewish New Year has begun, our prayers for renewal and recovery have a new dimension entirely. It is impossible to grasp the scope of the work that’s needed even to begin to put lives back together, but the Jewish response is and always will be a collective call to action.
Our Jewish Response: An Update
The numbers and assessments of needs are changing daily. Following are updates of disaster relief efforts spearheaded by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and NECHAMA: a voluntary organization that deploys recovery services nationwide.
- As of Monday, October 2, 2017, the Detroit Federation has gathered 770 contributions for $158,277 and received grants adding another $135,000, making the total from the Detroit community $293,277.
- The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit joins Federations across the country through JFNA (Jewish Federations of North America) in raising funds for the victims of all 2017 hurricanes. Through Federations’ Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts, more than $14 million has been raised – which is one third of the preliminary estimated $30 million needed to rebuild. These funds, from federations, foundations and the Government of Israel, already are being put to work, helping to:
- Meet immediate urgent needs for displaced and affected families urgently needed temporary housing, food and cleaning supplies.
- Establish safe places for children. Distraught families were able to send their children to a day camp so they can focus on recovery and rebuilding.
- Offer trauma support.Families can receive telephone-based counseling sessions and schedule in-person appointments with trauma and family-resilience specialists.
- Following Irma, JDC continues its response to the Caribbean Islands decimated outside the U.S. – providing hygiene kits, safe drinking water, psychosocial support for children, access to safe educational facilities and rehabilitation to homes.
- JDC’s relief efforts in the Cuban Jewish community, with whom it shares a close relationship, has included food and recovery aid. Before the storm, JDC worked with the community in Havana on a crisis communication strategy to ensure the well-being of Jews in the provinces.
- With longstanding ties to the Jewish community of Mexico, JDC immediately reached out to assess needs and implement a response focusing on immediate rescue and relief including digging people out of the rubble, emergency psychology services and medical aid.
- NECHAMA is preparing for a potential deployment to Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey. In the next few weeks they will be sending assessment teams to survey and scout the region for potential deployment locations once first responders have cleared volunteers to enter communities.
Jewish ways to help
- Right here and now: go to DONATE online at Jewish Federation of Detroit’s Hurricane Relief Fund
- Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
- Visit Hurricane Irma Caribbean & Cuba Relief Fund to support JDC’s efforts in the Caribbean and Cuba
- To support JDC’s relief efforts in Mexico, visit: jdc.org/mexicorelief
- NECHAMA: A Jewish Response to Disaster