US Jewish groups help out after Oklahoma tornado

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the first nor will it be the last disaster to hit Oklahoma, so we’re setting up a fund to reflect that,” says Rabbi Vered Harris.

May 22, 2013 22:57
1 minute read.
Volunteers retrieve belongings after Moore, Oklahoma tornado

Oklahom tornado volunteers 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

NEW YORK – Eliot Yaffe is doing just fine. His family is healthy, and his house is intact. But the resident of Moore, Oklahoma, is surrounded by broken friends and their tattered homes. The rare, mammoth tornado that shook his community on Monday swept by less than a quarter of a mile from his house.

With two young kids of his own, what hurt the most for Yaffe was news out of Moore’s elementary schools, where seven children were killed. A total of 24 people have been confirmed dead in the Oklahoma City suburb.

“The kids of those schools are going to be going to my kids’ school tomorrow,” Yaffe told The Jerusalem Post. He sits on the board of the Moore Public Schools Foundation. “We’re trying to get stuffed animals and toys to each of the kids who lost their house.”

Yaffe’s reform rabbi has been busy this week, strategizing with national Jewish leaders and local colleagues of other faiths on how best to address yet another Oklahoma disaster.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the first nor will it be the last disaster to hit Oklahoma, so we’re setting up a fund to reflect that,” said Rabbi Vered Harris of Temple B’nai Israel, alluding to storms past and the infamous domestic terrorist bombing of 1995.

Harris is working with a host of national organizations with experience raising funds for national disasters, including the Jewish Federations of North America, which opened a fund on Tuesday to raise money for relief. A JFNA representative told the Post the amount it raises depends more on the extent of the disaster than on the size of the Jewish community in the disaster zone.

Rhonda Love, vice president of programming at B’nai B’rith International, agreed, noting that some of the largest fundraising efforts it has embarked on have been for disasters in places with very small Jewish populations.”

B’nai B’rith raised $515,000 in mailed checks for victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and $25,000 in aid for residents of Joplin, Missouri, when it experienced its own tornado in 2011.

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