IAJF Supports Communities Devastated by Hurricanes
In the wake of the devastating hurricanes in the fall of 2017 in Texas and Florida, the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York authorized emergency funds to help the recovery of the Jewish communities in these hard-hit areas. The IAJF proudly directed vital funds to various organizations on the ground providing early stage recovery efforts in Houston and Miami:
Hurricane Harvey wreaked unprecedented destruction in Houston. Chabad of Houston sent rescue boats and vehicles and created an Amazon registry for people to purchase necessary items for victims of the storm. The Chabad Harvey Relief Fund helped with the acquisition and distribution of relief supplies, food preparation and delivery, storm clean-up, emergency cash assistance, temporary housing, and holiday programming and services. The Evelyn Rubinstein Jewish Community Center of Houston provided gift cards, cleaning supplies, community referrals, emotional support, and informational forums. The JCC also mobilized its resources and agency programs to enable those in the community to reconnect with one another. Jewish Family Service of Houston distributed financial aid for new clothes, food, and basics. JFS also assisted people with their long-term recovery, helping them find new housing and furniture and file their FEMA paperwork, and providing trauma counseling. JFS did intakes with over 800 households in the first couple of months alone. More than half of these households will remain long-term clients for the next 2-3 years on their road to recovery.
Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage across Miami-Dade County and other parts of Florida and the Caribbean. The Greater Miami Jewish Federation, part of a nationwide effort organized by The Jewish Federations of North America, established an emergency relief fund to support urgent needs in the Jewish and general communities in the wake of the storm. Funds were earmarked to feed over 2,000 individuals who were home-bound or simply had no money to buy food due to loss of income. The Federation continued to receive requests for food vouchers or assistance in paying for electric bills for months after the storm. The Federation also provided financial help to Jewish institutions that were damaged during the hurricane but not covered by FEMA.
The IAJF is gratified to have been able to assist in the early stages of recovery for both the Houston and Miami communities.
Message from the IAJF Board of Trustees
Dear Friends and supporters,
In November of 2016, arson and wildfires devastated Israel, causing injuries to its residents and destruction of forests, homes and infrastructure.
Citizens contributed food and clothing, and opened their homes to strangers who had been forced to evacuate. Volunteers and firefighters have been on the front lines extinguishing fires, saving lives, evacuating houses, tracking arsonists, utilizing emergency response centers, patrolling and preventing further destruction.
The results of this crisis: over 630 fires, 600 homes were destroyed, 32,000 acres of forest and brushland were burnt, 1,700 residents became homeless, and 180 people were injured. It will take years to rebuild and to recover from these brutal wildfires; nevertheless, the strength of Israel comes from its people and world Jewry. Together, we will rebuild, regrow and reinforce the people and State of Israel!
The IAJF is committed to supporting Israel during these trying times. Thanks to the annual support and generosity of our donors, the IAJF was able to respond to the crisis and immediately transfer $175,500 in emergency funds on behalf of the community, to the following organizations:
Thank you for enabling us to respond to these emergency needs.
- The Haifa Foundation to sponsor the reconstruction and equipment replacement of two kindergartens in Haifa, Safir and Flowers. The largest fire occurred in Haifa. Buildings, schools and kindergartens were burned down, and 75,000 residents (about a quarter of the city's population) were evacuated. During the fire 11 schools and kindergartens were damaged; 2 of these institutions were destroyed completely. Safir and Flowers kindergartens will be the first to be fully restored in the upcoming month.
- UJA Federation of New York Israel Fire Relief Fund to support UJA partners already on the ground providing critical humanitarian services.
- The Jewish Agency, providing financial support to families whose homes were entirely destroyed or made unlivable.
- The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), supporting Israel's elderly and disabled as they recover from damage due to the fires.
- The Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), providing relief at Carmel Hospital and evacuation centers, as well as providing direct care throughout the municipality of Haifa and mapping trauma needs of smaller municipalities hit by the blazes.
HaShomer HaChadash to purchase two drones for the "Forest Keeper Program", whose members assist Israel's fire and rescue services throughout Israel. Drones survey vast tracts of land that are difficult to cover at ground level with human observation alone. The presence of a drone in the air remains undetected during an incident. In 30 minutes it can survey tens of thousands of acres and locate criminals in real time in order to help combat agricultural crime on a daily basis.
- Jewish National Fund - Israel Fire and Rescue Services to sponsor a fire truck. The courageous men and women of the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services, the unsung heroes of Israel, are ranked among the best in the world. These brave first responders put themselves in danger daily, saving and protecting lives and property in the face of ever-increasing challenges and demands. Israel's firefighters are dedicated to providing unparalleled emergency response and life-saving services in a wide range of situations and are considered the number one specialists in responding to acts of terror including bombings and rocket attacks, car accidents, forest fires, and hazardous materials incidents.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Israel.
Board of Trustees
Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York
Message from the IAJF Board of Trustees
In the summer of 2014 Operation Protective Edge by Israel lasted fifty days during which IDF soldiers were engaged in combat operations inside the Gaza Strip. During this period Hamas terrorists fired more than 4,595 rockets towards Israel's population centers especially in the south resulting in five civilian deaths, property damage and emotional hardship upon all Israelis. Most disheartening was the loss of 67 young IDF soldiers in ground operations in search of hidden underground tunnels inside Gaza. Notwithstanding the implementation of the cease fire between Israel and Hamas, the negative economic and emotional impact of seven weeks of war on Israeli citizens and soldiers continues. IAJF is committed to supporting Israel during these trying times by focusing its attention and resources toward Israel' current needs.
Thanks to our generous and committed donors, IAJF has raised and donated $750,000 in emergency funds to organizations in Israel in support of soldiers, children, the disabled and the elderly, especially in Southern Israel. We have also supported trauma victims, needy mourners, and those organizations who work to save and rehabilitate lives devastated by the war.
We wish to thank the community for its generosity and incredible support during these critical times. Below are updates with details on our emergency response and the use of your contributions.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Israel.
Board of Trustees
Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York
The IDF has mobilized his troops across the country and over 50,000 reserve soldiers to support Operation Protective Edge. A little comfort in the battlefield can make a large difference for these brave men and women. The IAJF has sponsored FIDF's care packages for over 1,500 soldiers, which include snack packages, toiletry kits, and undergarments kits - basic necessities that these soldiers did not have the time or the resources to gather before being deployed. The IAJF also provided funds to support the FIDF's Legacy program for widows and orphans of soldiers who lost their lives in defense of Israel during this operation. Helping these bereaved families to make sense of their new reality, connect with peers who have also suffered a terrible loss, helping them celebrate holidays and life cycle events, and more.
OneFamily Fund has supported injured and bereaved families in southern Israel. It offered calls and home-visits, it evacuated hundreds victims of terror to date and sent them away for 3-day therapeutic retreat, provided refuge for families wishing to leave the south, and provided financial aid and initial emergency assistance where necessary. IAJF's support was directed toward a therapeutic respite retreat hosted for 100 families from Sderot, a city located just 840 meters from the border with Gaza. These three days allowed the family to regroup, regain composure, receive therapy, and sleep safely for a few hours.
Bereaved Families have made the ultimate sacrifice. The IAJF partnered with One Family to extend the support given to needy bereaved families by offering a special grant to them. This unique grant will be tailored to the needs of each family, providing financial support for basic necessities, food, educational programs and scholarships, memorials in honor of their beloved one, therapeutic seminars, family retreats and more.
The Eshkol Regional Council is located in the in the Western Negev and borders on the Gaza strip and Egypt and is home to 13,500 residents. During the war, over 1327 of the missiles launched at Israel have targeted the Eshkol Region. Because of its proximity to Gaza, the residents of Eshkol have very little time to seek safety when a missile is launched. The IAJF sponsored 80 buses to relocate some of the residents of Eshkol to safer areas in Israel during the war. The following quotation is a testament for the essential use of your contribution: "The children of Kibbutz Ze'elim went to a one day trip to the Zoo in Jerusalem. For the past 3 weeks, these children where closed at their preschool, having only indoors activities due to the security situation. Thank you so much for allowing them to have such an experience." After the war, the IAJF immediately helped to protect the children by sponsoring three new playground facilities, each near a fortified safe room. Research and experience have both proven that interesting playgrounds offer the perfect basis for carefree playing. Children are able to forget their fears and feel protected.
The Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council has 7600 residents who live near the Gaza Strip. Due to its close proximity to the border its residents are exposed to incursion attempts by Hamas terrorists and direct mortar/rocket fire on homes and other property. Children are being born into a reality of warfare. Therefore, security must be taken into consideration. The Israeli government has decided to build 20 blast-proof daycare centers for the 900 children and 160 teaching staff in the school system. Each daycare center will be comprised of two classrooms and an outdoor playground. The IAJF partnered with the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council to strengthen the community by sponsoring indoor equipment and playgrounds at four new day care centers to be built in 2014.
UJA-Federation of New York has provided critical support through it's agencies and partners on the ground in Israel: taking children, families and disabled people out of the affected war zone and providing much needed respite; providing food, medicine, and care to the elderly and infirm and those unable to leave their homes in the South; offering crisis counseling and answering thousands of calls to hotlines from those overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. The IAJF immediately supported the UJA-Federation Israel Emergency Fund to help with these critical services.
Amigour is one of Israel's leading organizations providing sheltered housing for the elderly. There are 650,000 Israelis over the age of 65, many of whom live close to the poverty line and cannot afford to purchase or even rent sustainable housing. During Operation Protective Edge, Amigour homes in the south have suffered direct hits while physical limitations of the senior residents prevented their access to bomb shelters. The seniors rather remained in their apartments or walked to the stairwells on their floor when a siren was sounded. Amigour Sheltered Home in Beersheba is composed of two separate, four story buildings that accommodate 69 elderly residents, new immigrants, and Holocaust survivors. To provide protection for elderly residents and as a response to the latest crisis, the IAJF sponsored a new safe room, out of four, being constructed in the Amigour Shelter Home in Beersheba.
Israel's Scouts Movement (Tzofim) is the largest youth movement in Israel, which involves thousands of teenagers in Israel and around the world. During Operation Protective Edge, over 4,000 children and teenagers, from southern Israel, participated in the activities organized by the Scouts' volunteers in bomb-shelters. Additionally, forty buses full of teenagers went on different day-long retreats, seminars, and short camps in order to give the youngsters and their families a short break from the harsh reality. IAJF sponsored nine buses to transport 400 kids to retreats in central and northern Israel. Each group enjoyed indoor and outdoor recreational activities. For some of the children, this time was the only time playing freely away from a bomb shelter during the summer.
ALUT-The Israeli National Autism Association operates centers in Beer Sheva for teenagers and infants with severe autism. During the war hundreds of rockets attacked Beer Sheva. The teenagers at the center have 20 seconds to run to the shelters, timing which is almost not possible due to their condition. Even those whom suffer from severe autism have to sleep in tiny shelters. IAJF provided funds to increase the number of staff members at the center; to transport staff that assist families of autistic infants in their own home while Alut nursery school in Beer Sheva is closed; and to support afterschool activities inside the shelters.
NATAL - Trauma Centers for Victims of Terror and War has been crucial during this time of need, as the rockets launched into Israel have placed over 5 million Israelis under threat of such attacks. Although Iron Dome has intercepted some of these rockets, many have not. The children, adults, and elderly are living in a state of fear and unpredictability. Many suffer from acute traumatic reactions. This requires urgent attention in order to prevent long term and potentially debilitating emotional consequences. The IAJF immediately provided support to NATAL while its Community Outreach Team of therapists is on the ground as first responders, providing critical emergency emotional assistance. At the same time, NATAL works in communities throughout Israel, providing essential programming to support, strengthen, and build resiliency of the Israeli public.
ZAKA is Israel's leading volunteer agency dealing with search, rescue & recovery. During every rocket attack, ZAKA volunteers have been rushing to the scene, combing the area for any injuries and provide humanitarian assistance where needed. IAJF's grant was used to purchase essential emergency lifesaving equipment; oxygen tanks and first aid equipment for volunteers working on the front lines in the South, particularly communities close to the Gaza border, which are exposed to the non-stop rocket barrage.
Magen David Adom (MDA) has always been the forefront of Israel's national rescue efforts. The IAJF sponsored emergency medical supplies and blood service center supplies directed to help soldiers and those in southern Israel who have suffered daily from the rocket attacks.