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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776
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Disaster Relief

Help Stop the Deadly Spread of Ebola

We are currently facing the largest outbreak of Ebola in recorded history. Thousands have died already, and thousands more are sick. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) projects that there could be 1.4 million cases by the new year.

The URJ is partnering with American Jewish World Service (AJWS) grassroots organizations in Liberia to educate people about how to prevent the spread of Ebola. With compassion and dedication, they embody what it means to "be a blessing." And by supporting their work, we can be blessings as well. Two projects in particular will benefit from the support of the Reform Movement:

Last Mile Health (funding sought for approximately $100,000 over six months)

Last Mile Health (LMH) was founded in 2007 in response to the decimation of health infrastructure in the wake of Liberia's civil wars.  The organization began working in a peri-urban and rural environment in Southeast Liberia, with a focus on building community health systems to reach the most remote and underserved parts of the country.  Last Mile Health is led by its Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Rajesh Panjabi, MD, MPH, who narrowly escaped the civil war in Liberia at the age of nine.

Responding to this acute need, Last Mile Health and Dr. Panjabi came up with an innovative model of care that was appropriate for this context.  The community-based model tailored to this setting focuses on Frontline Health Workers (FHWs), who are trained, equipped, stocked and incentivized to provide high-quality primary care.  FHWs are women, former patients, and community-based providers who are recruited and given the necessary support to tackle the top five disease killers of women and children in the country.

Last Mile Health has been swift to respond in light of the Ebola crisis, which has particularly affected Liberia.  A scale-up strategy was already in place, but has been accelerated in light of this health crisis. All FHWs have been trained on Ebola case identification and protocols, and are also provided with protective gear. FHWs, who are embedded in existing health care systems, are able to quickly identify potential Ebola cases and safely link them to testing and treatment services.  In addition, through a partnership with Partners in Health (PIH), a fully-equipped, high quality health facility will be constructed and staffed to serve this additional need. 

AJWS proposes to grant $100,000 to LMH to scale-up the FHW model in other counties in Liberia over a six-month period.  This FHW model is not only critical to responding to the Ebola crisis, but will allow for sustained health systems to be built and will have a lasting impact for years to come.

The Civil Society Council Ebola Response Taskforce (funding sought for approx. $40,000-50,000 over six months)

The Civil Society Council's (CSC) Ebola Response Taskforce is a recently-developed body that has been created by several national civil society organizations (CSOs) in Liberia. The Ebola Response Taskforce's member CSOs have carried out a comprehensive consultation process to develop a proposal that aims to systematically help mitigate the spread of Ebola. The Taskforce's proposed activities seek to address several areas of need identified as critical for improving the efficacy of the national and international response to Ebola in Liberia. One of the core components of its intervention is to establish five Situation Rooms in clusters across Liberia that will help to strengthen and harmonize data collection and analysis of community-level response efforts by the government and international agencies. This analysis will be used to strategically engage with policy makers and implementing agencies to help improve the effectiveness, timeliness and efficient coordination of response efforts.

The Taskforce will also carry out direct service provision activities that include supporting CSOs to conduct contract tracing, proper burial of the dead, and Ebola awareness community sensitization. The taskforce aims to improve community sensitization efforts by training and supporting its CSO members to disseminate messaging through community leaders and radio stations that will provide accurate information about Ebola and counter prevalent myths about its transmission and prognosis. These sensitization activities will target local government authorities as well as communities at large. It is soliciting additional funding from AJWS that would primarily support the following activities:

  • Conducting community outreach on Ebola;
  • Carrying out contact tracing and burials; and
  • Enabling community-level monitoring to help ensure proper burials are being performed.

Through consultations with current grantees in Liberia and experts in the field, AJWS is convinced that community mobilization is extremely important in stemming the spread of Ebola. A partnership with the CSC Ebola Response Taskforce will contribute significantly to this effort.

Learn more and donate now. 

Disaster Relief Funds

When disaster strikes, Reform Jews trust the Union for Reform Judaism to distribute donated funds to agencies that are most effectively helping those in need. The Union retains no funds from relief efforts, with the exception of direct costs, such as credit card fees. Recent relief efforts have included hurricanes, storms and wildfires in North America, Haiti, Israel Emergency and Sudan. The URJ’s General Disaster Relief Fund enables the URJ to respond quickly and swiftly to all types of disasters as needed.

Donate now. Choose a fund from the dropdown menu below:

"What is might? When you see people about to fall and rescue them."
- Midrash Tehillim 52:24

The Reform community has a long history of generosity when natural disasters devastate communities, when houses of worship burn in the fires of racial prejudice, when terrorism causes havoc, and when other disasters cause harm across the planet. Recent relief efforts have included Haiti Relief, Israel Emergency Relief, Hurricanes, the Asian Tsunami and Sudan. The URJ is a member of the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, which allows a unified Jewish response to natural and man-made crises that occur outside of North America.

Contributions may also be mailed to:
Disaster Relief Fund
Union for Reform Judaism
633 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Canadian Council for Reform Judaism
3845 Bathurst St. Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

M3H 3N2

Please indicate which relief effort you would like to support on the memo line of your check or in the comments field for online donations.

Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan devastation in the PhilippinesIn the early morning hours of November 9, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines. Thousands of lives were lost and hundreds of thousands impacted when the storm hit. Authorities and aid groups are struggling to deliver safe drinking water, food, and life-saving supplies to disaster zones.

The URJ General Disaster Relief Fund is collecting donations that will be distributed to aid groups working in affected areas.

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Donate in Canadian Dollars
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Oklahoma City Tornado

Oklahoma TornadoIn response to the devastating tornado that struck Oklahoma City on May 20, 2013, the Union for Reform Judaism is collecting donations to direct contributions to local relief agencies on the ground in Oklahoma.

Donate Now to Oklahoma Tornado Relief

Prayer After the Tornado

Reform Movement Collecting Donations for Oklahoma Tornado Victims

Hurricane Sandy
hurricane sandy Hurricane Sandy has left a staggering path of destruction in its wake. Both New York and New Jersey have been designated as disaster areas, more than 7.5 million people are without power, and the storm continues to ravage parts of the Midwest. Please donate to the URJ’s Disaster Relief Fund today to help with the relief efforts. More
July 2012 Colorado Wildfires Relief
wildfireMore than 340 homes were lost and over $110 million in damage was caused by the recent outbreak of wildfires in Colorado. Help the Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins communities rebuild by donating to relief efforts through the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado.
March 2012 Tornado Relief

Tornado reliefIn early March 2012, deadly tornadoes swept through the Midwest and southern United States, leaving behind dozens of deaths, hundreds of injuries and structural damage to many homes and cities. As we well know, it is always the most vulnerable who bear the brunt of the storm’s impact. Long after the media moves forward, there will be tremendous needs to be met in these communities.

If you would like to help, URJ recommends contributions be made to the following local partners:
Learn more: Temple Sinai of Champaign-Urbana, IL sent a volunteer delegation immediately after the Harrisburg, IL tornadoes. Read their story here.
Spring 2011 Southeast U.S. Storm Recovery

In spring 2011, a series of deadly storms swept across the Southeast and Joplin, Missouri, killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless. Even today, relief work remains to be done.

To support relief efforts, Temple Emanu-El of Birmingham, Alabama began a special volunteer initiative: Teyn Yad – Lend a Hand. If you would like to volunteer or if your congregation would like to send volunteers to work in Alabama and provide relief for tornado victims, please email Rabbi Miller.
Earthquake in Haiti

school collapse A severe earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010. This is the most severe earthquake to hit that impoverished country in 200 years. The death toll is expected to reach thousands and it will likely be many days until the impact is fully known. Read more or donate now.

Nothing But Nets

Each year, malaria infects 500 million people, causing over one million deaths, devastating the society and economy of affected regions. For just $10, you can purchase a bed net and help prevent the spread of this terrible disease in Africa through the United Nation Foundation's Nothing But Nets Initiative. Learn more

Crisis in Sudan

The crisis in Sudan is critical, with hundreds of thousands of refugees and victims of atrocities at risk of dying over the next several months. For the first time in its history, the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has declared a “genocide emergency,” saying that genocide is imminent or is actually happening in the Darfur region of Sudan. Learn More...

In times of crisis, the Union activates the Union Disaster Relief Fund for contributions, which are then forwarded to appropriate agencies. In recent years the Union Disaster Relief Fund has provided help to the victims of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tsunamis, as well as after September 11, and when African American churches were burned in the Southern United States. In the wake of the hurricanes that battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, more than $3 million in donated funds were raised to help the victims and relief agencies, as well as the congregations of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Florida. Information about the Union's allocations is made public on our website. The Union retains no funds from relief efforts, with the exception of direct costs, such as credit card fees.


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