When need arises, the Jewish community of St. Louis plays a vital role in providing financial assistance to fund urgently needed basics like food and medicine, and long-term aid like trauma counseling.
This page will help you find proven resources to direct your contributions to areas of humanitarian crises, locally or internationally, whether the disasters be natural or man-made.
- Attacks in Israel
- Wildfires in California
- Pittsburgh Shooting
- Hurricane Michael
- Indonesia Tsunami & Earthquake
- Hurricane Florence
November 13, 2018 | 3:52 pm
From The Times of Israel, written by Judah Ari Gross
Israel indicates acceptance of Gaza ceasefire reached with Hamas
Palestinian terror groups in the Strip say they will abide by Egyptian-brokered ceasefire if IDF does too
A ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli air strike, November 12, 2018. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP)
Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip announced that Egypt brokered a ceasefire agreement between them and Israel on Tuesday evening, after over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours.
A senior Israeli diplomatic official appeared to confirm the reported armistice. First reports said the decision to accept a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups in Gaza was taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Tuesday’s seven-hour meeting of the security cabinet without being put to a vote. Four ministers quickly said they opposed it.
“Israel maintains its right to act. Requests from Hamas for a ceasefire came through four different mediators. Israel responded that the events on the ground will decide [if a ceasefire will go into effect],” the Israeli official said, on condition of anonymity.
According to the military, over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of 25 hours on Monday and Tuesday.
The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more, and causing significant property damage.
In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israeli military says it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”
Cabinet members who had previously supported more aggressive military action in the Strip quickly denied that they had supported the measure.
“The briefings about the purported support from Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for ending the strikes in Gaza are fake news. The defense minister’s position has been consistent and has not changed,” Liberman’s office said in a statement.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett also denied he’d supported the ceasefire, saying the claim was a “total lie.”
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked were also said to have opposed a ceasefire agreement.
The decision was reached following a seven-hour marathon meeting of the security cabinet.
At the conclusion of the meeting, it released a statement that read, “The security cabinet discussed the events in the south. The cabinet received briefings from the IDF and defense officials on the [IDF] strikes and widespread operations against terror targets in Gaza. The cabinet instructed the IDF to continue its strikes as needed.”
Shortly after the cabinet announcement Tuesday, Hamas’s political chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, was reported as saying that if Israel stopped its strikes against Hamas infrastructure in Gaza, the terror group would return to ceasefire talks.
On Tuesday, Egyptian intelligence officials, United Nations Special Envoy to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, and other third-party mediators scrambled to broker a ceasefire between the two sides.
According to the IDF, the barrage of more than 460 rockets and mortars lobbed at southern Israel began shortly after 4:30 p.m. Monday when Palestinian terrorists fired a Kornet anti-tank guided missile at a bus near the border, severely injuring an Israeli soldier on board.
The anti-tank missile attack occurred less than a day after an IDF special operations officer was killed in an operation in Gaza gone awry that also killed seven Palestinian gunmen. Following the clashes, Hamas said “the blood of our righteous martyrs will not be wasted.”
Dozens of incoming rockets and mortars exploded inside cities and towns throughout southern Israel, several of them directly hitting homes and apartment buildings in Ashkelon, Netivot, and Sderot.
One man was killed in one of those direct hits in Ashkelon. He was later identified as a 48-year-old Palestinian man from Hebron, Mahmoud Abu Asbah, who was living in Israel with a legal work permit.
According to medical officials, 27 other people were injured in attacks, including the soldier hit in the anti-tank missile attack and two women wounded in direct hits on apartment buildings in Ashkelon. A man in his 40s was also moderately wounded by shrapnel, medics said.
In Gaza, seven Palestinians — at least five of them later claimed by terrorist groups as members — were reportedly killed in the IDF’s raids on Monday and Tuesday, apparently in airstrikes on rocket-launching cells.
In recent weeks, Egyptian and UN mediators had appeared to be making progress in brokering informal understandings aimed at quieting the situation.
Last week, Israel allowed Qatar to deliver $15 million to Gaza to allow cash-strapped Hamas to pay the salaries of thousands of government workers. At the same time, Hamas has lowered the intensity of the border protests in recent weeks.
The fighting on Monday and Tuesday cast doubt over understandings previously brokered by Egypt and UN officials to reduce tensions. Just a day earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had defended those understandings, saying he was doing everything possible to avoid another “unnecessary war.”
November 13, 2018 | 12:14 pm
Update from The Jewish Federations of North America
Israel-Gaza Conflict: Live Briefing Tomorrow
More than 400 rockets were fired at Israeli towns and communities across the south, reaching as far as Ashkelon. Residents of the Gaza area were ordered to stay close to shelters, and public gatherings have been banned in the region. Schools and other educational institutions are closed today.
Join top Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus for a live audio briefing,* facilitated by Adobe Connect, on Wednesday, November 14, at 11:00 AM ET.
*This briefing is off the record.
November 13, 2018 | 12:10 pm
Update from The Jewish Federations of North America
Update on Israel-Gaza Conflict from The Jewish Agency for Israel
The Jewish Agency for Israel, a Federation partner, has been on the ground since the violence intensified, providing assistance to affected communities.
Read an update from Isaac Herzog, Chair of the Executive, The Jewish Agency.
Note: This audio briefing will be facilitated by Adobe Connect. Detailed directions and technical support information will be provided once you register.
November 13, 2018 | 9:02 am
From the President & CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America
Update from The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)
Unfortunately, the situation in Israel’s south escalated overnight and Hamas rockets continued to be fired at Israeli civilian targets. JFNA’s Israel office has prepared the following update:
Since just before 5 pm yesterday (Israel time), over 400 rockets have been fired at Israel, triggering an endless stream of sirens, and causing hundreds of thousands of civilians to spend the night in shelters (see photos of damage here). In the worst incident, a residential building in Ashkelon was hit by a rocket, killing a 48-year old man and severely injuring two women. In total, at least 55 Israelis have been wounded by the effects of the rockets since the attacks began yesterday.
While Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System successfully intercepted more than 100 rockets that were headed to populated areas, eight residential buildings were hit in Sderot, six in Ashkelon, and two in Netivot (see one of the Netivot residences here). Footage of incoming rockets and Iron Dome interceptions can be seen here.
Residents of the region have been instructed to remain close to shelters, public gatherings have been banned, and kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools have all been closed with classes cancelled for some 200,000 students, in cities and towns including Sderot, Be’er Sheva, Ashdod, and Ashkelon.
The attacks began yesterday (see update here) when an Israeli bus was targeted by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza. One 19-year-old Israeli soldier was severely injured in the attack, and he remains in critical condition. According to authorities, tens of soldiers had disembarked from the civilian bus minutes before it was hit. A Hamas propaganda video depicting, and celebrating, the attack can be seen here.
In response to the rockets, the IDF has struck close to 100 Hamas and Islamic Jihad military targets in Gaza, including four that were classified as “significant strategic military assets.” Targets included Hamas weapons’ warehouses, a naval vessel used by the terror group, a building used by its internal security service, and a Hamas-run television station.
Israel has moved additional tanks and infantry units to the Gaza border region, and is considering a significant call-up of reserves. Israel’s security cabinet is currently meeting in emergency session.
Israeli television stations are broadcasting round-the-clock coverage of the situation, and both television and radio are interrupting their broadcasts on a regular basis, announcing (or displaying) Red Alert sirens and their location. Several communities in the center of the country have announced that residents are opening their homes to those from the south who feel the need to escape from the current tension, danger and uncertainty of their home towns.
Today is also the scheduled date for run-off municipal elections in Israel (in all locations where no candidate received 40% of the vote or more in the first round). Due to the security situation, the Ministry of Interior has postponed the elections in the Hof Ashkelon Municipality, but all other votes will take place, including in the country’s capital, Jerusalem.
The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for the Victims of Terror has already reached out to many of the families whose houses were struck by rockets overnight and is providing immediate emergency assistance. A number of the dwellings that were hit are no longer inhabitable, and residents have been taken to hotels.
Alongside the Jewish Agency, Jewish Federations’ other partners (including JDC, ITC, and World ORT) are all active on the ground dealing with the emergency situation and responding to urgent needs. JFNA’s Israel office is in close contact with our partners and Federation staff with partnership regions that are impacted by the situation, as well as with government and emergency services operating in the area; and will continue to monitor the situation closely, and update as needed.
President & CEO
The Jewish Federations of North America
25 Broadway, Suite 1700
New York, NY 10004-1010
Sources: IDF Spokesperson, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Walla! News, The Times of Israel, Ma’ariv, The Jerusalem Post, Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) and Kan-Reshet Bet.
LA Wildfire Relief Fund Opened
- The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has opened an LA Wildfire Relief Fund – 100% of all funds raised will go to individuals and institutions affected by the fires.
- The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles launched an Emergency Hotline for those affected and in need of assistance: (323) 761-8100.
November 12, 2019 | 9:48 am
From the CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
We Are Here For You
It’s been a tough few days. Unfortunately, I am writing to you amidst another crisis affecting our community. As you know, wildfires are raging across Los Angeles in the West San Fernando and Conejo Valleys. At this moment, numerous neighborhoods are under mandatory evacuation.
I want to assure you that we are doing all we can to help our community as this natural disaster affects our Jewish institutions and homes. We are in touch with partners throughout the area, and our Federation’s Community Security Initiative (CSI) sent out multiple updates throughout the night. Our Senior Staff mobilized this morning to discuss further strategies to assist our partners and the members of our community living in the affected areas.
If you or your loved ones are impacted by these fires and need information, services, or assistance of any kind, please call our Federation’s Emergency Hotline at (323) 761-8100 from 8:00 AM-8:00 PM. Because of the ever-changing nature of the situation, this line will be answered on Shabbat and throughout the weekend.
The past few weeks have tested our strength and resolve as a community and a nation. As we welcome Shabbat, please know that our Federation is here to support you and your families.
President & CEO
October 30, 2018
Victims of Terror Fund
If you would like to make a donation to Pittsburgh, you can do so through the Victims of Terror Fund at JewishPGH.org/Our-Victims-Of-Terror-Fund.
October 28, 2018
Remarks at the Community Vigil against hate
Yesterday morning at around 11 am local time, 11 people lost their lives in what is believed to be the single worst assault on Jews in United States history. The oldest was Rose Mallinger, 97. The youngest was David Rosenthal, 54. Like some of the other victims both of them were from Squirrel Hill, the location of the Tree of Life Synagogue where the carnage took place.
Earlier this morning I heard from my colleague Jeff Finkelstein, who is the CEO of the Pittsburgh Federation. He told us that a local marine, a former combat veteran, reported that it was the single worst scene of human carnage he had ever seen. Jeff has not been able to enter the synagogue. He will be attending 11 funerals over the next week. 11 funerals, 11 families, 11 children without fathers or mothers.
The 11 victims were joined by six others who were injured, including three police officers who put their lives at risk by rushing in to confront the assailant, preventing what surely would have been an even worse outcome.
Yesterday’s casualties were targeted for one reason. They were Jewish. They were Jews who chose to worship according to our tradition.
But why yesterday, why this particular Shabbat morning?
Although we need not look for any other reason, the assailant explained his motivations in a post: Yesterday morning, the synagogue hosted HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and sponsored a program on helping immigrants. He said his attack was motivated because those Jews were helping immigrants and letting very bad people into our country.
As we remember this horrible anti-Semitic attack let us also remember that an assault on the immigrant, an assault on any minority, and any attempt to dehumanize others simply because they are different, is an assault to each one of us here.
Today, we stand in solidarity, as a community, with the victims of these attacks, with the broader Jewish community in Pittsburgh, with the Jewish People around the world, with all peoples who are outraged by these senseless acts. We gather here in our region to say, this will not stand, this is not us, we can and must do better.
I am Andrew Rehfeld, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. I thank you for standing with us for a vigil to turn hate into hope, to express our outrage at what occurred and move to a place of healing drawing on the traditions of multiple faiths. For while our community was the target of the assault we must never forget that an act of anti-Semitism is an act not just against the Jew. It is an assault on the very right of each of us to be treated as fully human no matter what our race or religion.
I have been overwhelmed by the show of support from our region. And want to acknowledge so many of you that have contacted me to share your pain and offer your support.
I want to begin by thanking the key individuals who made this gathering possible. To Lynn Wittels and the staff of The J, who within hours turned this gymnasium into a holy space. To Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council and Rabbi Noah Arnow, president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association, who put together a meaningful program. To them and to so many of you who posted and tweeted and mobilized our community, this is the power that will fight hate. Knowing that we stand together, knowing that the Jewish community is not alone.
The history of anti-Semitism is marked by two very important kinds. The most devastating form is Statist anti-Semitism, when the state actively engages in the destruction of our people like it did during the Holocaust. Alongside is populist anti-Semitism, where hate-filled individuals target our people for imagined offenses that fill them with rage. Yesterday’s attack was one in a long line of populist anti-Semitism instances, tracing back at least to the creation of the blood libel in the 12thcentury and possibly before.
Populist anti-Semitism can only be conquered through education and strong support from the state. We saw that support yesterday in the scores of first responders who rushed to protect as many as they could. Here in St. Louis, I would also like to recognize our First Responder Community. The agencies that are home to Jewish Synagogues and Shuls immediately took action upon receiving word of this tragedy, placing vehicles and officers at those locations. Specific departments, such as St. Louis City and County, Creve Coeur, Chesterfield, Olivette, University City, and Clayton, responded to our Synagogues to provide visible support and reassurance. And along with those first responders, I want to thank two individuals here today: Jeff Jenson, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, and Richard Quinn, the special agent in charge of the FBI for St. Louis. I thank them all.
Standing behind me is also a group of elected officials who have reached out to offer their words of solidarity. I want to recognize first Governor Parson who was invited to speak today but unable to attend as well as Senator McCaskill and Representative Lacy Clay who had hoped to be here if not for their own out of town conflicts. I want to now invite U.S. Senator Roy Blunt to offer words of support on behalf of the US Congressional Delegation that also here includes Congresswoman Ann Wagner. Following the Senator’s remarks I will ask State Senator Jill Schupp to speak representing our state legislative delegation in Jeff City that here also includes Representative Stacy Neuman.
[Roy Blunt Speaks]
[Jill Schupp Speaks]
Would you please join me again in thanking Senator Blunt, Congresswoman Wagner, State Senator Schupp and State Representative Neuman, along with Senator-elect Brian Williams, Sarah Unsicker, a representative, and Rep. Derek Grier in standing together in condemnation of these awful attacks.
Twenty months ago, I stood before our region at the desecration of Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, and I said that in times of attack we must “name it, condemn it and do something about it.” We have now named this attack and condemned it. What can we do about it?
First, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis takes our commitment to our community’s security very seriously. Working in partnership with our local law enforcement, we have invested significantly in providing security advisory services and coordination for events and programs as needed. This work is our mission. It is what we are here to do, and I thank each of you who have made this work possible through your investment in our organizations.
Second, for those of you who are seeking counseling in times of crisis please take advantage of the significant support of Jewish Family and Children Services.
Third, educate yourself about the evils that happen when good people stand idly by. Visit our community Holocaust museum and make a commitment to the words “never again.”
Fourth, do your part to combat the scourge of incivility that has turned disagreements between us about ideas into personal attacks. Let us not leave here today without some reflection on how we are each fostering a culture and climate of civil discourse. Do your part to monitor your social media to delete posts that attack people rather than express disagreements.
And finally, each of us as citizens of the United States has a moral responsibility to call our political leadership to account during our election season. Work to support those who refuse to personalize political disagreement, target minorities, or create fear of immigrants. And call on all political leaders to condemn these actions as well. For it is this culture of hate that allows anti-Semitism to thrive.
Name it. Condemn it. And do something about it. I thank you and those on stage for standing in solidarity with us. Let us now commemorate and honor the memory of those who were killed.
October 27, 2018
Statement on Tree of Life Tragedy
Today’s horrific act of violence at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh is shocking and disturbing. The Jewish community of St. Louis sends our prayers to the victims, their families, and the Tree of Life congregation.
We have security measures in place and immediately sent an alert to local synagogues and other Jewish agencies when news broke about this incident. We have been in contact with local law enforcement agencies and have taken appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our local community.
Jewish Federation of St. Louis plays a lead role in coordinating security for the Jewish community here and will continue to coordinate with local law enforcement to provide protection in the future.
On Wednesday, October 10, Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle, killing at least five and leaving 1.1 million without power. Reports indicate that the storm is expected to continue up the coast. Though it always takes some time to assess damage and determine the needs of impacted areas, we know that several of our Federation communities are in the path of the storm, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham, and Tidewater.
Jewish Federations of North America has opened a mailbox to aid victims of Hurricane Michael. Click here to go to the donation page.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Responds to Indonesia Tsunami & Earthquake
September 30, 2018 – New York, NY – Following the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia’s Sulawesi island on Friday, September 28, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is providing emergency medical services, critical supplies, and psychosocial support with one of its longstanding local partners. Additionally, JDC’s Indonesia representative, in cooperation with its global disaster response team, is engaging in ongoing needs assessments and working together with local organizations to help ensure best practices among responders to protect groups especially vulnerable in disasters including women, children, and the elderly. With a presence in Indonesia since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, JDC is raising funds for immediate and long-term support in the face of a spiking death toll and widespread devastation impacting millions. To support JDC’s Indonesia relief efforts, visit: www.jdc.org/indonesiarelief.
“Our hearts go out once again to the people of Indonesia, who have suffered two tragic disasters in recent months and find themselves in need of immediate care and tools to better prepare themselves for future crises,” said JDC CEO David M. Schizer. “As Jews around the world gather in the coming days to celebrate the conclusion of our High Holiday season, we are keenly aware of our blessings, our responsibility to repair a broken world, and the need to act now to deliver hope to those facing so much despair.”
Last month, JDC responded to the tragic earthquake in Lombok by providing survivors critically-needed shelter, food, medicine, electricity, and psychosocial support. This response built off of JDC’s work in Indonesia providing direct aid through local partners and, in a major focus, strengthening disaster risk reduction and response capabilities over the last 14 years. Those JDC efforts culminated in a just-completed flagship program, funded by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, that trained local communities in disaster management and psychosocial services.
JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. In the last year, has responded to disasters and crises in Guatemala, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Mexico, the Caribbean, Sri Lanka, and East Africa and has continued its post-disaster development work in Nepal and Haiti. JDC also provides ongoing humanitarian aid to refugees in Europe and the Middle East.
JDC relief activities are coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Israeli government and the United Nations, as well as local and international partners.
Jewish Federation of St. Louis is working diligently to help raise funds to support emergency relief for the Jewish and general communities in the Carolinas, Virginia, and other areas devastated by Hurricane Florence.
CNN.com reports that the hurricane made landfall on the night of September 13 as a Category 1 and is one of the largest to hit the region in decades. With record-breaking rain expected, extensive damage continues to mount. The effects associated with the storm are significant and could prove to be unlike anything experienced in that region.
The need for funds to support the victims of this tragic storm will be enormous and long-term. It will be days before anyone can even begin to assess the damages because rain and flooding have not stopped.
Jewish Federations of North America has opened a donation site to collect funds for victims of Hurricane Florence. One hundred percent of all contributions to this fund will be directed through the Jewish Federations of North America to support the Hurricane Florence Relief Fund as part of the Jewish communities’ collective response to this emergency. Thank you to those who have already donated to this important effort.
Please visit JewishFederations.org/Hurricane-Relief-Fund-2018 to donate.