JDC, the 9-1-1 Help Line For Those in Need
On October 9, the JCFR hosted the 17th Annual Grand Event at the Virginia Historical Society. Mark and Susan Sisisky chaired their fourth Grand Event – it was a smashing success. We thank them for their long and dedicated leadership in our community.
The guest speaker for the evening was Will Recant, assistant executive vice president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Will serves as senior staff person regarding all of JDC’s non-sectarian and disaster relief programs. In this capacity, he coordinates projects relating to the rescue, relief and renewal of Jewish communities world-wide and develops non-sectarian programs.
During the evening, he passionately described the work of JDC over a period of some 100 years.
"We were there to help in Argentina, Cuba, the Former Soviet Union and many other places where there was a need," Will told community members.
He spoke about the rescue of Ethiopian Jews during Operation Solomon, which ended almost as quickly as it began. Timing was crucial, he noted, since any delay by Israel could have allowed the rebels to hold the Jews as bargaining chips with Israel or the United States.
While he was with the American Association for Ethiopian Jews, in May of 1991 he worked closely with the Special Israeli Envoy as liaison to the U.S. government in the planning and implementation of Operation Solomon.
A total of 14,324 Ethiopian Jews were flown out of Ethiopia in 36 hours and resettled in Israel, a modern exodus of the grandest design.
Operation Solomon rescued twice the number of Jews than in Operation Moses and Joshua, in a mere fraction of the time. Today, there are more than 120,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel. In fact, the last 450 left Gondar for final flights to Israel in August.
Will also spoke about emergency efforts in Haiti, sponsored by JDC. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck about 10 miles southwest of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince in 2010. The worst earthquake ever experienced by Haiti left thousands dead and injured. Will related how the IDF quickly and efficiently set up a Israeli field hospital in Haiti a month before any other aid would arrive. JDC provided greatly needed medical supplies and medical devices for the field hospital.
In Haiti, JDC also organized efforts to get the most basic need – water – to the people. Water towers sprung up around Port Au Prince with Jewish symbols on them – showing that the Jewish people, through JDC, were there to help.
As the Reflector was going to press the week of Oct. 21, we heard more about the humanitarian aid JDC is providing to Syrian refugees in Jordan. With the escalating violence in Syria, millions of desperate women, children, and families are fleeing for their lives.
The Jewish Coalition for Syrian Refugees in Jordan, of which JDC is a leading member, has already provided more than $400,000 in aid to our partners on the ground providing critical assistance to the most vulnerable children and women. Jordanian nonprofits are providing food and staples that come from JDC and other Israeli non-profits to refugees quietly.
It is a life or death situation, the Times of Israel reports: "Here in Jordan, however, the NGO director says he is happy to work with Israelis, and the refugees are simply eager to be fed.
"Believe me, people are hungry and it doesn’t matter. They are not asking where the aid comes from," he says. "With the refugees, there is no problem. But the regime inside [Syria], they blackmail them if they know they are supported by Israel."
Once again, as it has done for nearly 100 years, JDC, is providing humanitarian aid. "We want to help, because it is the right thing to do," is an often heard JDC statement.
JDC truly is the 9-1-1 help line to provide the vital assistance in the Jewish and non-Jewish world. It knows no boundaries.
If you have not already done so please speak to a Campaign volunteer or visit JewishRichmond.org to make your pledge to the 2014 Federation Annual Campaign, which supports JDC and its many programs.
As always, please give me a call at (804) 545-8622 or email email@example.com.