NEW YORK – In the aftermath of the second-worst tornado in US history, with half of the town of Joplin, Missouri, destroyed, relief workers are going to the area to search for Joplin’s Jewish population.

Rabbi Yehuda Weg, Tulsabased director of Chabad- Lubavitch of Oklahoma, arrived in Joplin with a carload of food and clothing late on Monday night, with a list of missing members of the Jewish community.

Those missing, Weg said, included two brothers active in the Jewish community of Joplin.

The town of 50,000 (metropolitan area about 175,000) has Chabad-affiliated Jews, and the United Hebrew Congregation of Joplin is a Reform synagogue that has been in existence since at least 1919.

The Union for Reform Judaism is collecting funds for storm relief.

Israeli expatriate Omer Mani operates a kiosk at the Northpark Mall, which survived the tornado. When he left the mall to go to his home, he found that he had lost almost everything but his tefillin and a bound copy of the Torah, Chabad’s news service reported.

As of Monday afternoon, the death toll from the tornado stood at 116, with hundreds more missing.

Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston declared Joplin a disaster area and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon dispatched National Guard troops to the area.

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