THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has urged “every member of our community to help in any way that they can” as bushfires continue to scorch the nation.
In what has been a catastrophic bushfire season, more than eight million hectares have been burnt with more than 1500 homes destroyed, while half a billion animals have been killed and 25 people have lost their lives.
ECAJ president Jillian Segal said on Tuesday that Jewish Australians were “utterly devastated” by the destruction.
“These bushfires are of an unprecedented scale and severity,” she said.
“The loss of life, property and wildlife, the displacement of thousands of people, the long-term ecological and health impacts from loss of habitat and dangerous air quality, the peril to and loss of life of our heroic volunteer fire-fighters and emergency services, is a national tragedy that we must all confront.
“We are grateful for all that the fire fighters and emergency services men and women have done and we now need to assist in the rebuilding of devastated communities.”
Segal noted “there has already been such a generous response” from within the Jewish community with business and community leaders already raising millions of dollars, communal organisations organising appeals and synagogues conducting prayer services to offer comfort and strength to those affected.
“As reported previously, significant funds have already been donated in Victoria by community leaders,” she said.
She said the ECAJ has been “inundated with enquires” from within the community and abroad about how to help.
Following a bushfire campaign in late 2019 that raised $590,000, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) together with Stand Up have launched a new campaign “Emergency Appeal 2020”.
In Victoria, a group led by David Smorgon, Ruth Alter, Ian Davis and Fiona Geminder are coordinating a community fundraising campaign to assist those impacted by the fires. Funds raised will be consolidated with the assistance of the JCCV, who are the point of contact.
Members of the community wishing to make a direct contribution to any other state can do so through the JBOD/Stand Up campaign.
“We urge every member of our community to help in any way that they can,” Segal said, calling on those able to contribute financially “to do so generously”.
“This is the time to all work together for the benefit of the Australian community.”
To donate to the JBOD/Stand Up campaign: https://www.standup.org.au/donation-secure/emergency-appeal-2020