As we begin the Jewish new year, a series of natural disasters continues to take its toll on millions in the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico. In just four weeks, hurricanes and earthquakes have caused extraordinary destruction, and the need continues to grow.
Thus far, Chicago's Federation has raised over $800,000 to support efforts to rebuild homes, institutions, communities and lives in Texas and Florida. Moving forward, donations to the Jewish Federation Disaster Relief Fund also will support hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico and the wider Caribbean, and earthquake relief efforts in Mexico.
As always, the Federation will absorb all administrative costs, so that 100 percent of funds collected will provide relief for the thousands impacted by these disasters.
Contributions can be made online at www.juf.org/DisasterRelief . If you would like to designate your donation to a particular location, please specify in the comments section.
Funds raised support the efforts of our partners who have boots on the ground in these locations -- the Jewish Federations of North America, NECHAMA: Jewish Response to Disaster, IsraAID, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the local Jewish Federations -- as well as food drives and volunteer missions. As members of the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, we continuously are informed about areas of greatest need.
Hurricane Harvey delivered some of its worst blows to Houston's Jewish community. Nearly three-quarters of the city's Jewish population lives in areas that received extensive flooding, and communal infrastructure is devastated. And while the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria still is being assessed, people in Florida, Puerto Rico and the wider Caribbean have been forced from their homes, or are without food, power and other basic needs. In Mexico, rescue efforts are underway after a series of earthquakes caused hundreds of fatalities, thousands of injuries and destroyed tens of thousands of buildings.
In partnership with Federation, Chicago's Maot Chitim held a special drive to deliver kosher food and personal items to Houston in time for the High Holidays. And the Federation is donating 200 mezuzot to Jewish communities in Houston and Florida that are rebuilding homes.
Most recently, Chicago's Federation allocated $100,000 directly to efforts in Florida, Puerto Rico and the wider Caribbean to provide food, water and basic hygiene items, as well as psychological support for children and initial clean up from the storm. A portion of those funds will go to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation to provide relief to the general and Jewish community affected in that area, as well as toward repairs of a synagogue in St. Augustine and a Jewish cemetery outside of Tampa. And $50,000 was sent to Mexico, to provide assistance on the ground in rescuing and providing medical aid to victims trapped in the rubble.
In-person efforts also are in the works. The Chicago Federation's TOV Volunteer Network is organizing a series of missions, beginning in late-October, to help with recovery efforts in hard-hit Houston. For more information, visit the TOV website .
Donations also can be made via hotline, (312) 444-2869 , or by sending a check payable to the Jewish Federation Disaster Relief Fund to 30 S. Wells Street, #3015, Chicago, IL 60606.