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BBYO Statement on Fires in Northern Israel

December 8, 2010

Our Brother Alephs, Sister B'nai B'rith Girls and Jewish Teens worldwide,

The fires are finally out across Northern Israel.

Due to extreme drought and fueled by strong winds, the worst wildfire in the Israel's history originated in the Carmel Forest and raged across Israel's northern communities to the edges of Haifa, the country's third largest city. More than 40 Israelis were killed in the fires, including a 16-year-old volunteer from the JDC's AMEN Volunteer Service Corps, a BBYO partner agency. Buildings were burned, homes were destroyed and thousands of families were displaced.

The Israeli authorities have determined the fires are under control. Sunday evening saw heavy rains across the fire zone providing support to the front line's firefighters (a weather-related Chanukah miracle). More than a dozen countries sent help, supplies, equipment and experts. For decades, Israel has been a first responder to international crisis. This time, it was inspiring to see how many nations came to Israel's aid.

It's been a challenging and emotional week across Israel. We are saddened by the loss of lives, communities, and damage to the Israeli national forest, wildlife and landscape. Yet, we see the bravery displayed by our peers in AMEN and Tzameret, our partner organizations in Israel and we are hopeful. We are strengthened by the resiliency of the Israeli people.

By now, you may have seen a short video we released from the AZA/BBG International Board Winter Retreat in Washington D.C. this past weekend. We encourage teens, Chapters, Councils, Regions and BBYO communities around the world to support Israel in a variety of ways.

  • For those teens and families that want to make donations, we suggest contributing to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (http://www.jdc.org/). The JDC is the Jewish community's global humanitarian relief organization and has an extensive network on the ground already at work.
  • You can restore life to the region by rebuilding the Carmel Forest through the Jewish National Fund's 'Operation Carmel Renewal: From Black to Green" (http://www.JNF.org). Our teen leadership in Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio Region is leading this effort if you'd like to explore bringing it to your community.
  • Please join our Facebook page "Support Relief Efforts for the Fires in Israel", and promote it among your peers.
  • Keep your membership and peers aware of the events unfolding in Israel.

In the coming weeks, we'll continue to update you on events in Israel. Looking ahead, we'll be building restoration projects into the March of the Living and our summer Israel experiences, and when we visit Israel later this month, we'll learn more about what we can do to best support Israel and the Israeli people.

With appreciation for your efforts and love for the State of Israel,

Jeremy Sherman • 86th Grand Aleph Godol, Aleph Zadik Aleph

Arielle Braude • 66th International N'siah, B'nai B'rith Girls

BBYO
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