THE FOLLOWING WAS ISSUED THIS MORNING BY OUR PARENT ORGANIZATION, JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA. TO HELP THE VICTIMS OF HURRICANE HARVEY, PLEASE GO TO JEWISHHEARTNJ.ORG/HARVEY
The following statement was issued on Friday, September 1, by Richard Sandler, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Jerry Silverman, President and CEO, Jewish Federations of North America, regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
The Hebrew month of Elul marks a period of deep introspection leading up to the High Holidays known as cheshbon hanefesh, an “accounting of one’s soul” and actions during the previous year. It is not meant to be merely an intellectual exercise; positive, corrective action is required in order to properly prepare ourselves to enter the New Year. During this period, the shofar is sounded each day during morning prayers. It is a literal wake-up call — and call to action — reminding us that we are a people of deeds and not merely of words.
We reflect on the wisdom of this process every day as the Federation Movement strives to best serve our community, and especially this week as we come together to address a major crisis.
The people of Houston and the vicinity are suffering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, and the collective Jewish community has snapped into action — one of our great strengths as a communal system.
The Jewish Federations’ Emergency Committee was established in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. From California wildfires to Florida hurricanes to Texas flooding, the Committee has immediately reached out to local Federations when emergencies strike to offer continental assistance. Read more about the work of our Emergency Committee.
We recognize the heroic efforts of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, which has gone above and beyond the extreme circumstances to remain focused on aiding their community.
When conditions allow, we will conduct a thorough needs assessment in Houston and convene the Emergency Committee. Then we will assist with immediate needs such as locating and relocating residents, and ensuring they have the basics: food, blankets, clothes, satellite phones to reach their loved ones. The next step focuses on homes: removing water, mud and furniture; ripping out drywall; and pulling out floorboards, a process that, for just one home, means several days of work for 10 volunteers from partner groups like NECHAMA - Jewish Response to Disaster. The hard work of rebuilding and renovating will come in the months that follow.
This week we convened JVOAD, the network of disaster-response organizations that helped coordinate the overall Jewish response to Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Superstorm Sandy (2012). Our focus will be on maximizing resources and minimizing duplication of effort.
The time for action is now and we strongly urge you to give generously through your local Federation, where 100 percent of your donation goes to those in need.
Our hearts go out to families who have lost loved ones, whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives are in upheaval. Our ability to help them is determined by the strength of our unified efforts — by how we come together as one Jewish People, regardless of our differences, in times of calm and in times of crisis, to work for the greater good of all.
This critical work requires that we join in a collective cheshbon hanefesh — a reflection on what kind of a community we have been and wish to be. This is a true call to action, indeed.
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE, ISSUED 8/31/17 BY OUR PARENT ORGANIZATION, JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA, FEATURES FIGURES AND UPDATES FROM THE GROUND IN HOUSTON.
From: Desk of Jerry Silverman, President and CEO, Jewish Federations of North America
Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2017
Subject: Hurricane Harvey Update - 8/31/17
Thanks to everyone across our Federation system who have been working to bring support and relief to our Houston Jewish community! Here is today’s update:
First Emergency Grant of $500,000 Delivered to Houston Federation
JFNA’s Emergency Committee met this afternoon and approved the first grant of $500,000 to the Houston Federation to support the immediate relief and recovery efforts of the local community. The funds will be used to assist displaced families with temporary housing and food, and supplies to clean up an estimated 1,000 homes of Jewish community members that sustained severe flood damage.
First National Federation Team Arrives in Houston
A team of three senior professionals from JFNA, UJA Federation of New York, and the Los Angeles Jewish Federation arrived this afternoon to begin supporting the local Federation and community in organizing their recovery efforts. The team will be particularly focused in helping determine the range of social and educational needs facing community members, assessing the damage to local institutions and organization and how they can be helped to get back in operation, and developing mechanisms for managing the professional and volunteer service efforts.
This team joins a strong team of local Houston professionals from Federation, JFS, JCC and other institutions who unfortunately have gained much experience with floods in recent years and from assisting New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Federation Funding Efforts
Fundraising efforts across the Federation system, including mass appeals, approaches to foundations, and grants from local Federation emergency funds and endowments continue to grow. We estimate that more than $2.5M has been raised, including funds raised in Houston.
Today’s $500,000 grant used most of the cash on hand to date. Please forward all available cash to JFNA by the end of the week so that we can be in a position to continue our support to the Houston community next week.
The Trajectory of the Storm
While the storm has thankfully moved past Houston it has continued to have a powerful impact in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. JFNA’s staff has been checking in with the small communities in that area to assess their situation.