We spoke with Sarah Arenstein from The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington about their response to Hurricane Sandy.
Rachel: How did the Federation react to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy?
Sarah: As Jews, we hold dear the value of tikkun olam. So shortly after the hurricane hit, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington immediately opened a mailbox to support the relief efforts that would be most needed during the recovery and rebuilding. At times like this, we know it is more important than ever for community members to have a trustworthy organization who can help move their generous contributions to relief efforts on the ground. 100% of the funds raised from our mailbox will be swiftly allocated to recovery needs as they are identified.
Rachel: What organizations has Federation teamed up with to aid the relief efforts?
Sarah: The beauty of the Federation system is that the expertise and infrastructure is already set up on the ground. We have partnered with the NY Federation and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in partnership with Jewish Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (JVOAD). In addition to the money we will be putting into recovery efforts from our local community, we were proud to learn that JFNA’s Emergency Committee authorized $500,000 for immediate humanitarian needs of Hurricane Sandy victims in the New York metropolitan area and New Jersey. The funds will be used for cash disbursements, food, shelter, clean-up kits and other basic necessities. It is important for us to partner with organizations who have up-to date information and who are quickly assessing needs and moving cash to where it is needed most.
Rachel: What are the Federation’s plans for the coming weeks/months in regards to the relief effort?
Sarah: Our mailbox will remain open until further notice. We will continue to work with our partners to assess needs on the ground and swiftly move cash to agencies and organizations aiding in the relief efforts.
Rachel: How can members of the DC Jewish community get involved in the relief effort?
Sarah: The outpouring of support from local community members to those most hard hit in NY and NJ has been inspiring. Below are a few of the things we’ve heard have taken place. Just a few examples of what makes the Jewish community of Greater Washington such a wonderful place.
- Members of the Kemp Mill community raised money to bus families from New York to the area and host them for Shabbat and a benefit concert before sending them back home with much needed supplies.
- Agudas Achim is partnering with United Synagogue of Hoboken and is collecting gift cards for Target and Home Depot. They hope to go to the scene and help out this weekend.
- Beth Sholom Congregation collected and delivered a truck full of supplies including batteries, blankets, clothes, and water to assist in the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New York and New Jersey.
To support the recovery effort, click here to make an on-line donation or checks can be sent (made payable to) The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, 6101 Montrose Road, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Please indicate “Hurricane Relief Fund” on all checks.