As flames continued to consume large parts of the Carmel mountain range in
northern Israel, causing the evacuation of tens of thousands of local residents,
Jewish organizations and communities around the world began mobilizing over the
weekend to provide relief for those in need.
Shortly after the calamity
began, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee (JDC), two of the largest Jewish organizations, had
people on the ground aiding residents fleeing the flames and putting plans into
place for helping victims rebuild their lives once the conflagration
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“We are going to take 2,000 Druze and Jewish children – at a time
of crisis, we see no difference between Jews or non-Jews – on outings this week
so that their parents can run errands and try to organize their lives,” Yehuda
Sharf, the head of JAFI social activities in Israel, said.
helped around 100 families be evacuated to three separate
Sharf added that after the mourning period ends, JAFI will
contact the bereaved families and offer them aid that the government does not
provide. At the same time, JDC spokesman Michael Geller said his group will soon
be accepting donations through its website for helping vulnerable segments of
society in the areas affected by the flames.
“Immediately after the fire
began, we activated our emergency response team in northern Israel and they
began reaching out to the elderly and children,” Geller said. “We’re going to be
looking at the areas that have been hit and offer rehabilitation to families,
businesses and municipalities.”
The Jewish Federations of North America,
which funds both JDC and JAFI, said that it is already in the process of raising
funds to help the victims in northern Israel. JFNA spokesman Dani Wassner said
that federation leaders in the US and Canada were being updated on the ongoing
situation on the ground in the Carmel mountain range.
Diker, secretary- general designate of the World Jewish Congress and its current
directer of strategic affairs, told The Jerusalem Post that his organization
would create initiatives to help alleviate the suffering of those whose lives
have been disrupted by the fire.
“There will be a large mobilization of
the Jewish world to help rebuild lives and replant the trees that have been
destroyed,” he said.
“Lots of resources will be sent to rally around
Israel during this time.”
Diker, who was named the next WJC
secretary-general earlier this week, said his organization’s president, Ron
Lauder, was keeping a close watch on the incident and would assume a leadership
position in organizing relief efforts.
The Anti-Defamation League praised
the numerous countries that have aided Israel’s efforts to fight the devastating
forest fire, taking particular note of Turkey’s response.
firefighting aircraft to combat the blaze and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan issued a statement expressing condolences for the Israelis who perished
in the fire.
“Unfortunately, sometimes it takes misfortune to bring old
friends closer and reinvigorate their relationship,” said ADL national director
“Perhaps Turkey’s unconditional willingness to help Israel in this
time of need will lead to something good arising from the ashes of these
In a letter to Erdogan, the ADL wrote, “Turkey’s
immediate and constructive response to this crisis is an important gesture of
friendship at this very difficult time for Israel and a presentday reminder of
the historic and deep ties between Israel and Turkey.”