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UPDATED: Canadian Jewish federations respond to Hurricane Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy on October 25, 2012

TORONTO — UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has reached out to tens of thousands of people in its database to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Jewish and general populations.

An Oct. 30 email called the hurricane “a storm of unprecedented magnitude” that left 48 people in the United States dead, and “countless more injured, homeless and unsure of what comes next.”

The email said that 100 per cent of proceeds collected for the UJA Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund will be distributed by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) as part of a North America-wide response.

JFNA offices in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., are closed in Sandy’s wake, according to the JFNA’s website.

Steven Shulman, UJA Federation’s campaign director and cousel, told The CJN that JFNA is working with “local Jewish federations on the ground in the affected areas, and conferring with emergency management officials to assess the damage and determine where dollars can best be allocated.”

He added that members of the Jewish community “want to respond, and in particular they want to do so through an organization they trust, and at the same time make a statement about Jewish values.”

As of Monday, more than $15,000 had been raised by Toronto’s Jewish community for the victims of Sandy, Shulman said.

“I would expect donations to continue rather steadily as the extent of the devastation” becomes clearer to Canadian donors, he added.

To contribute to UJA Federation’s fund, go to ujadonations.com/sandy, or call 416-631-5705.

Federations in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa have also set up funds, and Montreal’s Federation CJA had raised $3,320 as of Monday.

Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA (JFC-UIA), which serves federated and non-federated communties, also set up a donation site at www.jewishcanada.org for people who “do not live in a federated community or if their federated community does not have its own fund,” the organization said.

As of Monday, it had raised more than $6,000 from communities across the country, excluding Montreal and Toronto.

On Nov. 5, JFNA’s emergency committee authorized $500,000 to be disbursed for the immediate needs of victims, half of which was given to the UJA-Federation of New York. The other $250,000 was distributed among 10 federations in New Jersey, according to a JFNA statement.

Meanwhile, UJA-Federation of New York announced it had released $10 million in emergency relief aid to its network agencies and synagogues.

The agency made the funds available on Nov. 5. Its board of directors had decided unanimously to make the money available in a special session the previous evening.

"The emotional and economic impact, especially on the isolated elderly and the poor, is acute and will remain so for a long time," the agency said in a statement.

UJA-Federation of New York had set up a Hurricane Sandy relief fund shortly after the storm hit on Oct. 29.

The week before Sandy struck the greater New York area, the federation raised a record $45 million at its annual campaign kickoff event.


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In related news, two young Jews were killed in Brooklyn, N.Y., by a falling tree during the hurricane.

The pair were out walking a dog on Oct. 29 in the storm’s high winds.

The dead were identified by the New York Observer as Jessie Streich-Kest, 24, who worked as a high school teacher in the city, and Jacob Vogelman, a student at Brooklyn College. The two had reportedly been friends since middle school.

In addition to the 48 Americans killed, 68 people outside the United States died in the one-of-a-kind storm, and more than seven million people in 13 U.S. states were without power at times last week.

 With files from JTA

Related: U.S. Jewish community bears impact of Hurricane Sandy

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