Organizations throughout the local area have been raising funds, collecting supplies, and volunteering to help Haiti after an earthquake on Jan. 12 devastated the island nation.
An emergency mailbox set up by United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey has so far raised over $46,000. All funds are being sent to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Day Schools, synagogues, religious schools, and even some individuals are also doing their part.
One upcoming event, organized by Risa Olinsky of Maplewood, is a Hike For Haiti that will take place on Sunday, Jan. 24, in the South Mountain Reservation in Maplewood from 10 a.m. until noon. She is requesting donations of $25; all funds will go to Doctors without Borders and the American Red Cross for Haiti. Olinsky is director of Lifestyle & Wellness for JCC MetroWest. For more information, contact her at 973-761-5758. She encourages others to run their own hikes for Haiti.
Area day schools have undertaken individual efforts.
Parents at the Nathan Bohrer-Abraham Kaufman Hebrew Academy of Morris County in Randolph are running a collection of tangible goods for Haiti.
The Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in West Orange is taking a multi-pronged approach. It is undertaking a general fund-raising campaign for American Jewish World Service-Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund; proceeds from its annual High School National Honor Society candy-flower-gram sale will benefit the same fund. By coincidence, the high school play, produced Jan. 7-10, was Once on this Island, which takes place in Haiti. Students are creating original artwork on silk-screened shirts that they will sell, with funds benefiting AJWS.
A variety of efforts are under way at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston. Upper school students volunteered on Jan. 20, the first day of their winter break, packing medical supplies for Haitians at the Yonkers warehouse of the AFYA Foundation, which provides medical supplies to needy countries. The school is also undertaking a collection of items for the warehouse and is launching “A bag and a buck,” encouraging every student to donate $1 and a sleeping bag. A speaker will address the entire student body in various formats regarding the crisis in Haiti. And the Chesed chug, or service club, will be undertaking a general fund-raiser for Haiti.
Synagogues and synagogue schools are also getting into the act.
At the Morristown Jewish Center Beit Yisrael, all tzedaka donations over the next few weeks will go to Haiti, and medical supplies are being collected. Students in the religious school will be discussing the events in Haiti in age-appropriate ways, and parents are being urged to have conversations about giving with their children.
At Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, tzedaka collected by religious school and preschool students for the Hebrew month of Shevat will be sent to Haiti relief funds established through the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism or the American Jewish World Service.
At Congregation Beth El in South Orange, tzedaka collected by children will be sent to emergency relief funds at United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and to help a congregant who has family in Haiti. In addition, the synagogue’s morning minyan tzedaka will be sent to relief funds at AJWS and UJC MetroWest. The congregation finished a collection drive for specific tangible goods on Jan. 21 that will be sent to Haiti this week through Yele Haiti, Jean Wyclef’s organization.
Religious school students at Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell plan to canvass for funds for Haiti outside a local supermarket. Rabbi Alan Silverstein, together with the other clergy in the Caldwell area, are planning a community-wide effort on behalf of Haiti.
Cantor Joel Caplan took advantage of the 140 school-age singers from the regional Hazamir choirs — visiting the community for two days of rehearsals and performance — by holding a benefit “dress rehearsal” concert on Jan. 18 that raised $500 for Haiti.
B’nai Shalom in West Orange is running a drive for specific items for women and babies, and religious school classes will focus on current events. The school is also conducting a tzedaka project on behalf of Haiti.
Nearly every synagogue has publicly urged members to donate, whether to denominational funds, like USCJ or the Union for Reform Judaism, the UJC MetroWest campaign, or any other relief organization’s efforts.