World Jewry to raise funds to help victims of Carmel fire

Jewish Agency, JDC have people on ground in northern Israel helping residents flee flames, putting plans in place to help victims rebuild lives.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
December 3, 2010 17:18
2 minute read.
Bulgarians help Israeli victims of Carmel fire

Carmel fire MDA 311. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

 
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As flames continued to consume large parts of the Carmel mountain range in northern Israel killing at 41 people and causing the evacuation of tens of thousands of local residents, Jewish organizations and communities around the world began mobilizing on Friday to provide relief for those in need.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), two of the largest Jewish organizations, already had people on the ground in northern Israel helping residents flee the flames and putting plans in place to help victims rebuild their lives once the conflagration abates.

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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. "We've also helped around 100 families be evacuated to three separate locations." He added that after the mourning period ends, JAFI will contact the bereaved families and offer them aide 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 that would be used to help vulnerable segments of society in the areas affected by the flames.

"Immediately as the fire began we activated our emergency response team in northern Israel and they began reaching out with to the elderly and children," he 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 their brethren in Israel.


JFNA spokesman Dani Wassner said Federation leaders in the US and Canada said some Federations leaders were being updated on the ongoing situation on the ground in the Carmel mountain range.

Meanwhile, Dan Diker, secretary general designate of the World Jewish Congress and its current Directer of Strategic Affairs, told The Jerusalem Post his organization would organize 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 in 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 as news emerging from northern Israel and would assume a leadership position in organizing relief efforts.

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