Dear San Diego Jewish Community,
It is with profound concern that I've been watching the news out of Florida, distressed by stories of mass power outages, flooding, destruction to property, and, of course, the thousands of people who braved the storm in shelters and are desperate to return home.
Similar feelings were also stirred two weeks ago when Hurricane Harvey took a colossal toll on Houston and its residents, including the family of our JDC President, Stan Rabin.
With family and friends in these places, I know we all experience this pain even more profoundly.
I am therefore thankful that our partners in the Jewish Federation system have been at the forefront of efforts to bolster American communities in the aftermath of these events, just as they, and those Jewish communities who have been impacted by the storms, have been deeply supportive of our efforts around the globe in disaster zones and when other Jews are in distress.
We should pause to remember the lives lost to these storms and note the hope being delivered by our Federation partners, and so many others, today.
It is also incumbent upon us at JDC, given our role as the overseas arm of the American Jewish community, to focus on the destruction beyond America’s borders.
Indeed, Irma’s wrath in the Caribbean — islands decimated as well as food and water shortages — compelled us to deploy a response as we have done after numerous disasters in the past.
We will be immediately providing hygiene kits, safe drinking water, psychosocial support for children, access to safe educational facilities, as well as rehabilitating homes of hundreds of children in the Caribbean countries hardest-hit by the disaster through our longtime partner UNICEF.
We have also been in contact with Jewish communities in the region like Cuba, where we have a long-term relationship helping the community to revive Jewish life, to assess needs and determine what interventions may be required. We have also dispatched a staff member to Havana to that end. In the time leading up to the hurricane, he worked with the community in Havana on a crisis communications strategy to ensure the well being of Jews in the provinces.
In Haiti — where we responded last year to a cholera outbreak after Hurricane Matthew and to the catastrophic 2010 earthquake — and in other places throughout the northeastern Caribbean, we could bring our expertise honed in past crises to address: access to medical care and safe water, disaster mitigation, and livelihood restoration — a very important issue given the widespread damage to tourism industry infrastructure.
In the last several days, I have been moved by the timely and professional way we and our partners have worked to address dire needs in the face of multiple, and emotionally taxing, disasters.
There is no doubt that these needs will only grow in the days ahead and I know that many of you want to help. To support JDC’s efforts in the Caribbean and Cuba, visit our Hurricane Irma Caribbean & Cuba Relief Fund page, and to address suffering in Florida and Texas, please contact your local Jewish Federation.
In the face of so much suffering, it is only together that we can save lives, strengthen communities, and build resilience for the future.
With the Jewish New Year fast approaching, I wish to share my hope that we do come together and ensure a better year ahead for those who have lost so much.
Sincere regards and Shanah Tovah,
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)