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URJ Youth Hurricane Response Update

Since the trio of catastrophic hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, and Maria – made landfall, millions of Americans from Texas to Florida, from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas, have found themselves without homes, electricity, food, water, and the life they once knew.

Mitzvah Corps and the URJ encourage monetary donations to relief efforts. As we strive to be as effective and fair as possible in the ways in which we support affected communities, we encourage donations to the following organizations:

NECHAMA: A Jewish Response to Disaster, who coordinates with local communities to organize volunteers, supporting both short- and long- term relief and recovery efforts. They are on the ground in all areas affected by these three hurricanes.

Jewish Federation 2017 Hurricane Relief Fund, whose donations support those impacted by the catastrophic flooding and damage caused by all three hurricanes. Their extensive network in all affected communities make them uniquely poised to distribute donations most effectively.

If you are looking for individual, family, or group opportunities to volunteer with relief efforts, we highly recommend looking into the following organizations, all of which adhere to the highest levels of holistic integrity: All Hands Volunteers, NECHAMA: A Jewish Response to Disaster, and J Teen Leadership.

The youth of the Union for Reform Judaism have been among the most vocal, passionate, and dedicated, committed to effectively providing aide to those affected. The devastation has spread over three NFTY regions (Texas Oklahoma Region, Southern Tropical Region, and New York Area Region), and below is an update on the ways they’ve mobilized, and opportunities to support their efforts.

Hurricane Harvey (Texas): NFTY Texas Oklahoma Region (TOR)

After raising over $5,000 and collecting school supplies to donate, NFTY-TOR is partnering with Mitzvah Corps and Greene Family Camp to run Hurricane Harvey Houston Mitzvah Corps from October 20-22, 2017. This weekend will bring together over 100 high school students from around the region to engage in disaster relief efforts with All Hands Volunteers and NECHAMA. There are limited spaces available for out-of-town teens who would like to join; please contact Mindy Michaels for more information.

Hurricane Irma (Florida): NFTY Southern Tropical Region (STR)

NFTY-STR’s adult and teen leadership has been engaging in peer-to-peer outreach efforts to all 34 congregations in the region. The extent of the damage to URJ congregations, and their congregants, is still being determined. NFTY-STR teens have created a bumper sticker that they’re selling for $5 each; all proceeds are going to the Jewish Federation and NECHAMA. Any temple youth groups, NFTY regions, or other groups that would like to purchase these stickers to sell to fundraise for the same organizations can contact Julie Marsh for ordering information.

Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rica and the U.S. Virgin Islands): NFTY New York Area Region (NAR)

Though far from the mainland, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands fall into NFTY-NAR’s region. As aide to these islands has proved the most challenging to provide adequately and efficiently, NFTY-NAR teens will be leading the effort to keep pressure on Congress to address the devastation there swiftly, for as long as it takes. They’ll also be taking on the responsibility of maintaining visibility of the damage, as recovery efforts will take many months, and the public’s pending natural disaster fatigue is inevitable.

These developments are ongoing; stay tuned for more updates!