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Tsunami Relief

UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM DISTRIBUTES $100,000 IN TSUNAMI RELIEF FUNDS

International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, International Medical Corps & Direct Relief International Receive Funds to Aid Those Affected by Natural Disaster

NEW YORK, January 4, 2005 – The Union for Reform Judaism is giving $100,000 to organizations dedicated to helping the men, women, and children affected by December’s devastating tsunami. This gift represents the first allocation of the more than $300,000 given to date to the Union’s Disaster Relief Fund, the mechanism by which the Reform Movement collects donations from its members for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

The Union opened the fund on December 28, and contributions immediately began to pour in from Reform Jews and Reform congregations across North America. As of January 3, more than 2,000 individuals had made donations totaling $300,000, while countless others donated directly to relief agencies recommended by the Union.

The Union is donating the first $100,000 of these funds to the International Rescue Committee, Direct Relief International, Mercy Corps, and the International Medical Corps. Each agency will receive $25,000, and further allocations will be made over the next several weeks.

“The generosity shown by so many Reform Jews, over such a short period of time, is remarkable,” said Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. “Over the past six months, we have asked our congregants to donate to the victims of hurricanes in Florida and Haiti, and genocide in Sudan – and they continue to give and give.”

The funds will be allocated as follows:

$25,000 to the International Rescue Committee (IRC)

The Union has been supporting the IRC’s work in Sudan, and will now support its efforts to supply citizens in and around Sumatra, Indonesia, with emergency water and sanitation interventions to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. The IRC will also distribute emergency supplies such as plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets, water containers, and other items urgently required by the survivors of the disaster.

$25,000 to Direct Relief International (DRI)

DRI, a non-profit, non-political, and non-sectarian organization, focuses on health by providing essential material resources to locally-run health programs in poor areas around the world and during times of disaster. In response to the tsunami, its initial medical shipments have included items such as antibiotics, antiparasitics, analgesics, repiratory agents, antiseptics, oral rehydration salts, and medical supplies such as wound dressings, bandages, sutures, surgical instruments, gloves and masks, and blankets.

$25,000 to Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a non-sectarian development organization dedicated to alleviating suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. In response to the tsunami, emergency operations will initially focus on providing shelter and essential items to survivors. Immediate needs include health supplies and services, water purification materials, rebuilding of water and sanitation facilities, food, trauma counseling, clean-up, and access to basic services.

$25,000 to International Medical Corps (IMC)

IMC is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and medical relief programs. In response to the tsunami, IMC is supporting mobile clinics with outreach to affected populations, securing supplies of clean drinking water, distributing food, hygiene and sanitation kits, providing psychosocial counseling and support to individuals and families, providing generators for temporary shelters and heath facilities, and providing body bags to search-and-rescue teams.

Donations are still being accepted by the Disaster Relief Fund. For more information or to donate, visit the Web site at www.urj.org/relief. Canadian citizens can donate by sending checks made out to CCRJ Asian Earthquake Relief to the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, 3845 Bathurst St. Suite 301, Toronto, Ontario, M3H 3N2.

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The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of the Reform Movement in North America, and represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 congregations in the United States and Canada. The Union services include youth camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, adult education programs, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C..

 
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