In the wake of Hurricane Florence this past week, the Atlanta Jewish community is opening its doors and starting to collect donations and supplies for displaced Jews from the impacted areas.
The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical depression when it made landfall Friday. At the start of this week, it had resulted in about two dozen deaths, extensive damage, power outages and flooding along the southeastern coast, from Virgina to South Carolina.
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“As the closest Jewish community of our size to the impacted area, we have a unique responsibility to organize and provide the help that our brothers and sisters will need,” Eric Robbins, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, wrote to community organizations Sept. 14.
“We have begun preparing our staff and building for the coordination of supplies, fundraising and volunteers,” he said. “We are in regular communication with national agencies and resources on the ground and will continue to update the community as the needs become clear.”
The Federation has compiled a list of Atlanta Jewish organizations involved in the Florence relief effort, which is being updated regularly. The list includes information for those who need help and those who want to help, including where to donate needed supplies and a link to The Jewish Federations of North America’s Hurricane Relief Fund.
Among the synagogues opening their doors to evacuees for Shabbat and holy days is Congregation Beth Shalom in Dunwoody. “We have many congregants who have offered to open their homes to individuals, along with several who can accommodate individuals who keep kosher and/or who have pets,” the synagogue stated in an announcement that appeared on the Atlanta Jewish Connector. As of Monday, Executive Director Loli Gross had not heard of anyone taking the synagogue up on its offer.
In addition to housing and services, Temple Sinai’s Disaster Relief Fund is collecting donations to help those adversely impacted, according to the Federation’s list. And volunteers from The Temple will deliver soup and challah to temporary residences in the Atlanta area for Shabbat or holy days.
A number of communal organizations also have stepped up.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Southeast region has offered empty office space and a conference room as additional emergency shelter, as needed.
Jewish Family & Career Services will provide help and clinical services to anyone struggling to get through the stress, anxiety and trauma of Hurricane Florence.
Hosts and evacuees can take advantage of free guest passes to the Marcus JCC, and the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum is providing free admission for evacuees with a valid ID from North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia.
Area day schools, such as The Davis Academy and The Epstein School, are also extending an invitation to families seeking support, housing or schooling.
Through Sept. 30: Collection on-site at various organizations.
Oct. 3-5: All items will be picked up by Federation and taken to a central storage location.
Oct. 7: Community-wide sorting and packing event to get supplies to the affected areas.
For more information about Jewish Atlanta’s response to the hurricane, visit www.jewishatlanta.org/florence-relief or to donate, go to www.jewishfederations.org/hurricane-relief-fund-2018. ■