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Jewish community accounted for in Joplin tornado

JTA

May 25, 2011 | 10:18 am

NOAA satellite image of a thunder storm minutes before a large tornado formed over Joplin, Missouri.

NOAA satellite image of a thunder storm minutes before a large tornado formed over Joplin, Missouri.

Two Jewish brothers who were reported missing in the wake of a deadly tornado in Joplin, Mo., are safe.

All the members of the small Jewish community in Joplin have now been accounted for, but many lost their homes and possessions in the tornado and are in need of basic supplies, according to reports.

The Jewish Federation of St. Louis said that at least four Jewish families have lost everything and are living in shelters.

The federation is collecting online donations to help assist the victims, and the city’s Jewish Community Relations Council is gathering supplies including blankets, new underwear, T-shirts, water, baby supplies and toiletry items to drive into Joplin.

Approximately 50 Jews live in Joplin, according to the federation, in a population of some 50,000.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City’s board of directors voted Tuesday to allocate $5,000 in emergency funds to the relief efforts in Joplin.

Rabbi Yehuda Weg, the Tulsa-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Oklahoma, told Chabad.org Tuesday that several Jewish-owned homes were “totally flattened.” He had driven to Joplin the previous night with a list of Jewish community members in need and a car full of supplies, joining volunteers from the American Red Cross and local disaster agencies, according to Chabad.org.

Weg travels to Joplin twice a month to supervise kosher production lines at several food manufacturers and to meet with 15 to 20 Jews affiliated with Chabad living there.

The United Hebrew Congregation of Joplin, a Reform synagogue, was not damaged, according to the federation. The synagogue reportedly has existed in the city since at least 1919.

A reported 122 people are confirmed dead and hundreds are missing following what is being called the second-deadliest tornado in U.S. history. The tornado cut through Joplin Sunday evening, one of several tornadoes that hit the Midwest over the weekend due to a system of severe thunderstorms that also have caused massive flooding.

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