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After the Fire: It’s Time to Help — and Heal

An Israeli firefighter walks past the remains of a house in Yemin Orde.  (AP, via Newsday)

An Israeli firefighter walks past the remains of a house in Yemin Orde. 

(AP, via Newsday)


By David Krantz

NEW YORK (Dec. 6, 2010) —


42 people dead.

250 homes ravaged.

12,300 acres razed.

5 million trees burned.

In the aftermath of the worst natural disaster in Israeli history, we are left wondering how we can help Israel recover after the fire. Fortunately, many organizations are taking quick action, and there are many ways that you can help. Donations to any of these organizations will help fire-relief efforts.

In terms of forest, there’s a lot of replanting to do. You can support the effort through donations to Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (JNF Israel).

There's also a lot of rebuilding to do. Almost half of Yemin Orde has been damaged or destroyed. And the American Jewish Committee is focusing on rebuilding communities after the fire.

Many organizations also have taken up efforts to aid families impacted by the fire, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Zionist Movement, ARZA / Union for Reform Judaism, Mercaz/Masorti, Global Jewish Assistance and Relief Network, Jewish Agency for Israel and UJA Federation of New York. And Magen David Adom — the Israeli branch of the International Committee of the Red Cross — is working to provide medical assistance to those affected by the fire. 

Over the next 10 days, Lynn Schusterman is generously matching every donation of up to $500 made by an ROI member or friend of an ROIer to Israel Gives’ Carmel Fire Relief Fund.

If you’re in Israel, or planning to be soon, you also can volunteer to help with fire relief. Israel Gives is coordinating volunteer needs for a number of Israeli nonprofit relief agencies working in the field.

One of the serious problems that hindered firefighters in responding effectively to the fire was a lack of equipment and a lack of air support. While other countries responded to Israel’s emergency, sending planes from all around the world, the time it took for international crews to arrive could have been spent fighting the fire if Israel had enough firefighting capability itself. JNF-USA is collecting funds on behalf of Friends of Israel Firefighters in order to buy new firefighting supplies and trucks. The Orthodox Union, Ve’ahavta and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties also are fundraising to support Israeli aid workers.

Other organizations, such as the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Green Zionist Alliance, are working on a regular basis as advocates to change policy in Israel in order to help prevent future fires of this magnitude from ever happening again.

We're lucky that this Chanukah the flames only lasted four days. With changes in policy, we can help make sure this tragedy doesn’t repeat. It’s time to plan for a smarter, greener future. It’s time to heal.




David Krantz is the president and chairperson of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.



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