Tonight is the 8th and final night of Hanukkah. As we light our candles and watch them burn slowly down, we do so with a heavy heart, aware that in Northern Israel a fire raged out of control for days, killing 42 people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.
As many of us followed the destruction on the news, several organizations both in the U.S. and Israel, were mobilizing to help with the disaster response efforts, and all of them could use our assistance. Here is a list, which is by no means exhaustive, that covers a range of issues related to the recovery work being done, from housing to environmental restoration to animal welfare.
By donating to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), you can help provide firefighting equipment and begin the tree replanting process. According to the JNF, over 5 million trees were burned in addition to the heavy losses of life and property.
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), also immediately geared up to help victims of the fire. On the ground in Israel, JAFI has provided shelter and food and worked to relieve tensions amongst the youngest of the victims, the children, by offering respite activities. The JDC, which has considerable experience in managing a crisis, has helped with evacuation process and finding accommodations for the displaced.
In conjunction with their partner organizations already established in the Carmel region, the New Israel Fund is collecting money for the disaster relief and recovery effort. In keeping with their social justice mission, NIF is working to ensure that all groups that have been affected by this fire – Jews, Arabs and Druze – will have access to service and care.
Many desire to help out in ways that are more hands on than simply donating money but in the immediate aftermath of a disaster such as this one, what victims need most of all are skilled hands – firefighters, doctors, social workers, etc. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t help if you’ve never held a fire hose or scalpel before. Long term recovery from an event such as the Carmel fire can take years and there will be other opportunities in the coming weeks and months for unskilled volunteers to lend a hand.
However if you are located in Israel, you can help out by looking at Israel Gives’ website to find local opportunities. Families have lost their homes in this tragedy and if you have space in your house, you can provide shelter to some victims by contacting Israel Gives. They are also collecting money for the Yemin Orde, a youth village in Carmel which was home to 500 children until it was completely destroyed in the fire. In addition to money, they are also requesting the following items: clothes for boys/girls between the ages of 9-19, furniture (beds, dressers, chairs, etc.), appliances, computer and educational materials (books, writing materials).
Other organizations have listed opportunities on the site and you might find that your particular talent or resource is needed. If you possess legal expertise, you can donate your time to victims and small business owners who will need to collect funds from insurance companies through Yedid. Contact [email protected] if you’re interested.
Rishon Loves Animals and SPCA Haifa are caring for injured and evacuated animals. While SPCA Haifa has enough volunteers to care for the animals, they do need more dried food to feed the 200 animals they are sheltering. There are also year round ways to get involved in medical and fire rescue efforts in Israel by volunteering with Magen David Adom and the Israeli Fire & Rescue Services.
Over the coming weeks and months, more service opportunities will be posted. Sign up at Repair’s page to be notified about new chances to help. And if you’ve heard of a way to assist that hasn’t been publicized, please submit it to our search engine so others can learn about it.