Jimmy Goldman, a business broker who lives near Houston, is recruiting a six-member team to travel to Moore, Olka., next week to volunteer their services under the auspices of Missouri-based Convoy of Hope (convoyofhope.org).
Recruited with the help of Houston’s Jewish Family Service, they hope to distribute clothes or food, or help remove debris, Goldman says.
”Any place they need me.” Goldman, an active member of two Houston-area congregations, says his humanitarian service was inspired by his work two years ago with a disaster recovery business that developed programs for cleaning up the British Petroleum Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “Thank God, I’ve been blessed with a healthy family and surroundings,” he says. “These [tornado victims] do not have that.” (For more information email email@example.com.)
Meanwhile, Jewish Disaster Relief Coalition, a grassroots organization founded in 2010, hopes to have volunteers on the ground in tornado-ravaged southern Oklahoma as soon as June 2, the organization told The Jewish Week Wednesday.
"We are in communication with the Jewish community of Oklahoma City and recovery groups on the ground, and the JDRC will be heading there when the needs are assessed and when the local community impacted requests support," said Adina Remz, director of the organization, who hopes to be among the volunteers. She said the goal was to organize around 100 people to make service trips to the area.
"We will also be working in partnership with the local Hillel from Oklahoma University during our time there," said Remz.
JDIC was founded by Elie Lowenfeld of New Jersey who was inspired after his volunteer work in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and at other subsequent disaster sites.
Tne Jewish Federations of North America announced Friday that it had passed the $100,000 mark in fundraising for its Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund. That sum includes $5,000 from the Jewish Federation of Ocean County, NJ. That donation was inspired by aid the federation received from others following Superstorm Sandy last fall for for local institutions and people who were affected.
"The Board's feeling is that although we are not fully back on our feet, the community has a moral responsibility to participate in some small way," said the federation's executive director, Danny Goldberg.
JDeal will double a $9 donation to the JFNA fund through Friday, May 31st, the company announced.
The Chabad Lubavitch movement distributed some $15,000 in disaster-relief funds provided by the Orthodox Union to Oklahomans affected by the recent devastating tornado.
The money distributed by the Chabad Community Center of Southern Oklahoma over the Memorial Day weekend was used for store gift cards and cash relief to help residents whose homes were destroyed by the May 21 tornado that struck Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, according to Chabad.org. The tornado killed 24 and destroyed or damaged 2,400 homes.
“On behalf of those here in Oklahoma who will receive this help, my thanks go to all of the O.U. members and friends who were so generous in a time of real need,” said Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, director of the Chabad center.
The money was collected in O.U. synagogues and via social networking.
Chabad, which opened its center as a shelter, has been collecting and distributing supplies for displaced families and the elderly.
In Brooklyn, the executive director of Masbia, a network of kosher soup kitchens in New York City, raised money to truck kosher food from the Agri-Star processing plant in Postville, Iowa, to Oklahoma City. Alexander Rapoport said efforts were complicated due to a backlog of shipping from the plant, which was formerly known as Agriprocessors, due to the Shavuot holiday, during which production was suspended. The food arrived at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma on Oklahoma City on Friday. The National Council of Young Israel assisted the effort.
“During [Superstorm] Sandy relief in New York [last fall], Masbia worked with Agri-Star to feed thousands of victims, we hope to be able to the same in Oklahoma with your help,” Rapaport said in a fundraising e-mail. Over $7,000 was raised as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Our hearts pour out to families in Oklahoma,” said Yaakov Labowitz, vice president of sales at Agri-Star Meat and Poultry, LLC.
He continued, “We recognize that in times of crisis, neighbor helping neighbor, often provides the most comfort, and a solid foundation for rebuilding.”
Rabbi Goldman of Chabad is coordinating volunteers on a local level to distribute the food to anyone who needs it. He said he has received calls from individuals and organizations in New York, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, California and abroad with offers to help with relief efforts.
B’nai B’rith International also opened its Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund. This fund has helped victims of other major disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the earthquakes in Japan in 2011 and Haiti in 2010.
“No amount of advanced warning could have prepared the people of Moore for the horrors this storm has brought. We’re going to do our best to help these people get back on their feet,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said in a statement.
Donations to the B’nai B’rith International fund can be made online at bnaibrith.org.
To donate to the JFNA fund go to jewishfederations.org and click on the homepage link, or send checks to Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Indicate “JFNA Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund” on checks or in the designation box online.
Adam Dickter, Steve Lipman and JTA contributed to this report.
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