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Federation joins Jewish effort on Haiti’s behalf
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Federation joins Jewish effort on Haiti’s behalf

Local leaders say they ‘are seeing the good that exists in people’

The Israel Defense Forces’ medical and rescue team in Port-au-Prince rescued a Haitian government worker on Jan. 16, who was trapped for 90 hours in the city’s ruined customs office.
The Israel Defense Forces’ medical and rescue team in Port-au-Prince rescued a Haitian government worker on Jan. 16, who was trapped for 90 hours in the city’s ruined customs office.

Responding quickly to the earthquake in Haiti, the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey established an emergency relief fund that raised $6,250 by Tuesday, Jan. 19.

All of the funds from the effort were to go directly to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, one of a number of Jewish American and Israeli groups offering aid to the nation after the earthquake struck the impoverished nation with deadly force.

“The devastation that we see in Haiti is deeply troubling,” said Stanley Stone, executive vice president of the Central federation. “Once again, we are seeing the good that exists in people with the outpouring of support and desire to want to help. With such loss and destruction there is a ray of light with people from all walks of life coming together in the spirit of just wanting to help.”

The Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth also announced that it would be collecting money for the Central federation’s effort. In a letter to the parents, administrators at the yeshiva wrote, “It is our hope that through our actions and prayers, Hashem will relieve the suffering of the people of Haiti, as well as all people worldwide.”

Among the nonprofits that had tables set up at the community-wide MLK Day of Service, held Jan. 18 at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, was the Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club, which raised money to buy “shelter boxes” for the people of Haiti. The big plastic boxes, distributed through the disaster relief organization ShelterBox supply a family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless.

Israel sent a delegation to Haiti that includes engineering, medical, logistics, and rescue experts from the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command.

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Jan. 12 was the strongest in Haiti in 200 years. The National Palace and United Nations peacekeeper headquarters were among the many buildings that suffered damage.

The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, a coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish organizations and other interested parties based in Israel, also was sent to dispatch a 12-person search-and-rescue team, which includes emergency medical staff.

In the United States, several other Jewish groups — including the American Jewish World Service (www.ajws.org/haitiearthquake), American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (www.jdc.org), American Jewish Committee (www.ajc.org/haitifund), and B’nai B’rith International (https://secure.ga1.org/05/web_relief_donations) — have set up mailboxes for donations.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti in the wake of this overwhelming disaster, and as we did following Hurricane Gustav in 2008, JDC will leverage its strong partnerships in the region to respond quickly and compassionately to the needs of those affected,” said Steven Schwager, JDC’s chief executive officer. “Now and in the months to come, JDC will provide both immediate relief as well as long-term assistance to help the Haitian people rebuild their lives.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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