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Jewish community aiding tornado victims

JTA

April 29, 2011 | 2:07 pm

Jewish groups are mobilizing assistance in areas of the U.S. Southeast struck by devastating tornadoes this week.

The Birmingham Jewish Federation in Alabama has opened a Tornado Recovery Fund to raise money for victims of the storms and tornadoes, which struck Wednesday and continued Thursday morning. The federation is coordinating a community relief effort with the United Way of Central Alabama, focusing on the Birmingham region, which was particularly hard hit. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, and more than a million homes and buildings were without power as of Friday afternoon.

Knesset Israel Congregation of Birmingham held a communal meal Thursday night and was planning to do the same over Shabbat, to aid those without electricity. The congregation’s rabbi, Eytan Yammer, is giving monetary aid to victims from his discretionary funds.

Nearly 300 people were killed in six states, two-thirds of them in Alabama alone. So far, no Jewish deaths or injuries have been reported, although several Jewish homes in Alambama were damaged by trees, according to Southern Jewish Life.

“Fortunately, much of our Jewish community was minimally affected by the storms, though we have received some calls for assistance,” Collat Jewish Family Services Executive Director Lauren Perlman reported Thursday.

“In Birmingham, there’s no separation between the Jewish community and our broader community,” said Joyce Spielberger, director of community relations and overseas programs at the Birmingham Jewish Federation. “There is not one person in Alabama that has not been affected.”

B’nai B’rith International also has opened a mailbox for donations to the affected area.

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