WJR sets up appeal for Haiti hurricane victims


World Jewish Relief has launched an emergency appeal to help victims of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.

Hundreds have died and whole towns have been swept away, with tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes.

The aid agency is calling for donations to help provide food, water and emergency shelters, as well as hygiene kits as numbers of cases of cholera increase.

Paul Anticoni, WJR chief executive, said: “We are proud to lead the Jewish community’s response to international disasters. On the High Holy Days we recite the Unetaneh Tokef: ‘who will live and who will die; who will die at their predestined time and who before their time; who by water and who by fire’. These words are particularly apposite for the people of Haiti today.”

WJR worked in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, providing 100,000 people with urgent humanitarian support and setting up primary healthcare mobile clinics.

The charity’s latest appeal has received cross communal support, with all denominations urging members to donate.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis said: “The pictures of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew are truly harrowing. The words, ‘who will enjoy tranquillity and who will suffer’ will carry additional meaning for us at this time of the Jewish year.

“As we approach Yom Kippur, we extend our heartfelt prayers for the thousands of victims of this disaster and for the wellbeing of those who might yet be affected.”

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, called on the community to give tzedakah, adding it was a “obligation not a choice.”

She said: “With a heightened awareness of life and death at this time of year we have to do everything we can to enable other people to be inscribed in the book of life.”

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism, said: “I am thinking of those bereaved, homeless and suffering from Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and Florida.

“Please support World Jewish Relief’s Emergency Appeal generously.”

Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi and chief executive of Liberal Judaism said: “At this season of all seasons when we contemplate our personal failures and the challenges of our world, the people and island of Haiti should be at the forefront of our minds.

“I applaud World Jewish Relief for its initiative and trust that Liberal Jews, in concert with others, will respond generously.”

Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi of S&P Sephardi Community said: “We are distressed at the devastation caused in Haiti, including the tragic death of so many people, by this natural disaster.

"We support the work that World Jewish Relief is undertaking to offer help to those affected and in desperate need.

"We pray that the destructive force of Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Caribbean storm in a decade, abates swiftly and allows the people of Haiti to deal with the extensive damage wrought."

The charity has launched the Haiti appeal despite awareness that attention may be distracted from its annual Rosh Hashanah appeal launched last month to raise funds to repair the homes of 252 Jewish families in Ukraine and Moldova.

Richard Verber, WJR head of external affairs said: “Our supporters are so generous, particularly at this time of year. We thought long and hard before asking them to donate again for Haiti.

“But once the flood waters had receded and we could see the damage caused by the hurricane, we knew immediately we had a moral obligation to act, even if it will impact negatively on our Rosh Hashanah appeal.

“We also need our Rosh Hashanah appeal to be successful to enable us to support hundreds of Jewish people in the Former Soviet Union. I was in Kiev last week and the conditions that many older Jewish people are living in are just appalling – they are our forgotten Jewish family.”

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