Jewish Agency Provides Support to Hundreds of Families After Fires

The Jewish Agency for Israel is providing financial assistance to hundreds of families across Israel whose homes were damaged by the devastating wildfires in November.

Grants of $1,000 will be provided to each family in order to help them address urgent needs presented by the loss of their place of residence. Eligible recipients are being identified by local authorities in coordination with the National Emergency Authority. Money raised by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley for the Israel Fire Emergency Fund, in concert with Federations across North America, will help fund the grants, along with other services that the Jewish Agency is providing.

“I was overjoyed to receive a phone call from a Jewish Agency representative,” said Shai Gabay, a Haifa resident. “While the government will provide some compensation for the damages, this grant was an additional lifeline that reminded me, especially during these difficult days, that all of Israel is responsible for one another.”

What started as a single fire on Nov. 22 became a firestorm engulfing many parts of the country. The devastating wildfires caused more than 70,000 people to flee their homes as the fires burned and approximately 32,000 acres of land were eradicated. The selfless determination of firefighters and security forces ensured that not a single life was lost.

The fires have brought heartbreak and despair to people from all parts of Israeli society, but they have also brought together every segment of Israeli society and Jews around the world.

“At trying times like these, world Jewry feels closely connected to what is taking place in Israel and comes to our help without hesitation,” said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. “We are proud of our partners in Jewish communities around the world, and particularly in North America, and appreciate their solidarity when it matters the most.”

With the help of donations from Jewish Federations, the Jewish Agency was also able to establish an emergency information desk in Haifa during the crisis. The desk was manned by Jewish Agency professionals and volunteers who assisted those in need and provide them with timely information.

A new Jewish Agency elderly housing facility opened its doors earlier than scheduled to provide nursing care for 22 elderly Holocaust survivors who were evacuated from their nursing home in Haifa. They arrived cold, confused and concerned. The dedicated staff assessed their needs and eased their anxieties.

The agency’s Sapir Absorption Center in Kiryat Yam served as a temporary haven for 13 new Russian immigrants who recently arrived in Haifa. They have since returned home and local Jewish Agency staff is guiding them as they navigate insurance and compensation procedures.

Students in the agency’s Ulpan Etzion program in Haifa who live throughout the city were supported by Jewish Agency social workers and staff as they returned to their apartments and regular program activities.
The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley has opened an emergency mailbox to collect contributions to aid the Israelis affected by the fires. To make a donation online, CLICK HERE or call the Federation at 610-821-5500.


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