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November 24, 2014 | 2nd Kislev 5775

HURRICANE KATRINA - FAQs

THE EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND

Q: Will the funds raised be used to help only Jews and Jewish organizations?

A: No. We will be giving funds to organizations that provide general relief to those who are in need, regardless of religion. We will also make a special effort to support the affected Jewish community. Funds will also be used to help member congregations that sustain damages that are not covered by insurance Please see our press release about the first round of distributions.

Q: How are funds donated to the Union’s Disaster Relief Fund distributed?

A: A task force of lay and professional leaders has been appointed to determine how best to allocate the funds raised. Direct relief to individuals and communities will be given through organizations that the task force determines are best equipped to provide them.

Q: Will my entire donation be sent to help others, or will you keep a percentage for administrative costs?

A: All funds, with the exception of the credit card processing fees levied by banks, will be used for relief efforts. The Union is absorbing all administrative costs.

Q: I made a donation online, but I do not know if it went through. What can I do?

A: You should have received an acknowledgement of your contribution via e-mail within minutes of making your on-line gift. If this did not happen, please e-mail development@urj.orgor call 212-650-4140.

Q: My credit card was charged twice or charged inaccurately for my donation. What do I do?

A: Please call the Union’s Development Department at 212.650.4140 or send an e-mail to Development@urj.org.

Q: Can individuals get personal financial relief from the fund?

A: No. The Union provides funds to other organizations that are more qualified to assess individuals' needs.

Q: Will funds be reserved to help repair the damage to congregations in Katrina's path?

A: Yes. We know it will take some time for the congregations to fully assess their needs.

Q: Will the Union be giving funds to the American Red Cross? Doesn't it discriminate against Israel?

A: While it has not been determined whether funds will be given to the American Red Cross, it is important to note that tthe American Red Cross has been very supportive of Magen David Adom and has withheld millions of dollars in dues to the international body in protest of the policy denying Magen David Adom full membership with the use of the Star of David emblem.

Q: Will funds donated for Katrina relief be used to help the victims of Hurricane Rita?

A: While a final decision has not been made, it is anticipated that the funds will be so used if there is the need.

THE EFFECTS OF THE STORM 

Q: What congregations were impacted by the Hurricane Katrina?

A:  We have the following reports:
    • Mobile, Springhill Avenue Temple - Congregation Sha'arai Shomayim: Damage to the roof and other wind damage
    • Mandeville, Northshore Jewish Congregation - storm damage; the congregation held Shabbat worship Sept. 9 and 16 in the parking lot
    • Metairie, Gates of Prayer - flood damage
    • New Orleans, Temple Sinai - the building is in good shape
    • New Orleans, Touro Synagogue - the building is in good shape; flooding in the basement.
    • Hattiesburg, Congregation B'nai Israel; the primary damage is to the cemetery.
    • Jackson, Beth Israel Congregation - okay 
    • Meridian, Congregation Beth Israel  - okay

     In addition, there was some damage to Florida congregations that felt the impact of the storm before it made its way into the Gulf:

Q:     I have family in one of these congregations. Can you help me reach them?

 

A:     The Union has created message boards to help members of congregations reach out to each other. Please see http://urj.org/relief/katrina/messageboards/ or check the websites for the congregations.

 

Q:     Our congregation has extra prayer books that we’d like to donate. Where should we send them?

 

A:      At this point, we are still assessing congregational needs. When we know what is needed by the congregations, we will share that information with other congregations. Please send a note to URJ@urj.org.

 

Q:     I have clothes and household items to donate. Where should I send them?

 

A:     Clearly, such supplies will be needed, but, at this time, the relief agencies are asking for cash donations. Please check with relief agencies in your community or the American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/)

 

Q:     I have room in my house for a family ? can you help find a family for us to host?

 

A:    We truly appreciate your generosity, but we cannot make this referral. Please check with the relief agencies in your area, including the United Jewish Communities/Federation and the American Red Cross, or e-mail Bert Goldberg at the Association of Jewish Family and Children's Agencies at bgoldberg@ajfca.org.

 

Q:     I want to go to Mississippi or Louisiana to help clean up. Who should I contact?

 

A:     At this time, relief organizations are not soliciting volunteers.  That may, of course, change.  Please keep checking with the American Red Cross or other agencies. We truly appreciate your generosity. At this point, we are not able to make this kind of referral. Please check with the relief agencies in your area, including the United Jewish Communities/Federation and the American Red Cross. In addition, moveon.org is maintaining a national database of housing offers through its website.

 

CONGREGATIONAL ASSISTANCE

 

Q:     Our congregation wants to host families from Louisiana congregations. How do we reach them?

 

A:     United Jewish Community is coordinating offers of housing from both individuals and congregations. Please send your information directly to bgoldberg@ajfca.org , with a copy to howard.feinberg@urc.org. Please know that housing may be needed for 9-1 months and that housing is for both Jewish and non-Jewish evacuees. 

      

Q:     Our congregation wants to collect clothing, medical supplies and other items for the victims of the hurricane. Where should we send them?

 

A:      Please consider participating in Jacobs' Ladder: A Project of the Union for Reform Judaism, which is collecting and distributing food and supplies in the Mississippi area.  

 

THE YOUTH RESPONSE

Q:     What can NFTYites do to assist in the relief effort?

A:     NFTY has initiated the NFTY-Katrina Challenge, calling for TYGs to fundraise and donate $100. If each NFTY Temple Youth Group takes part in this endeavor, NFTYites will raise upwards of $45,000 to $50,000 for the relief effort. http://www.nfty.org/resources/guides/hurricanekatrina/challenge/

Q:     Is there relief information specific to teens?

A:    NFTY has responded by providing resource tools for our members in the affected areas, and by stating a call to action to all of ourmembers in NFTY. http://www.nfty.org/resources/guides/hurricanekatrina/

 

Q:     How is NFTY responding to the teens of NFTY-Southern?

A:      NFTY has established NFTY-SO Connects, an online message board for teens from the affected areas to connect with one another and share information. This password protected site is specifically for members of NFTY-SO.http://www.nfty.org/resources/guides/hurricanekatrina/messageboards/

 

Q:      What can NFTYites do to emotionally support the NFTY-SO community?

A:       NFTY has posted an online Tefilot v’Tikvaot, book of prayers and hope, to which our extended NFTY family can post online messages of hope and encouragement. This book will then be complied and sent to our friends in NFTYwho have been so affected by this tragedy. http://www.nfty.org/resources/guides/hurricanekatrina/share/

 

         Please continue to reference the Katrina Response link on our website, www.nfty.org/relief, for updates which are added daily. For more information regarding NFTY’s response to Hurricane Katrina, please contact Melissa Goldman, Assistant Director of NFTY, at mgoldman@urj.org.

 

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