As I sit here in Tokyo with the first anniversary of the tsunami fast approaching, I recall my surprise the first time a Japanese person thanked me, as a Jew, for Israel’s immediate response to the disaster.
A documentary about Chiune Sempo Sugihara — who saved thousands of Jews while he was vice consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania during World War II — screened at the Skirball Cultural Center on June 23 to raise funds for Japan’s earthquake victims.
In northeastern Japan, the area hardest hit by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a team of Israeli post-trauma experts guided local teachers and officials through their lingering pain.
The Israel Defense Forces' aid delegation to Japan returned home, leaving medical equipment behind for local doctors to use. The delegation, which brought 62 tons of medical supplies and 18 tons of humanitarian aid to the city of Minami-Sanriko, hard hit by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March, landed in Israel on Tuesday.
Jewish federations throughout North America have raised $1,349,000 to help Japan recover from last month's massive earthquake and tsunami. The federations' Japan, Hawaii and Pacific Relief Fund, opened immediately following the earthquake and resultant tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, has collected the money to support relief and recovery efforts in the damaged areas.
As if the triple whammy of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster weren’t enough to enthrall and terrify us, the war in Libya is now providing cable news viewers a fresh hell to follow 24/7.
Purim seems to have come at the wrong time this year. It’s Adar-be Happy! But how can we be happy when there are images of destruction all around us, as Japan plunges into a nuclear disaster of huge proportions on the heels of a 9.0 earthquake and a terrifying Tsunami? How can we joyously wave our gragers against the evil Haman when we are deluged by images of tens of thousands of people swept into the sea? How can we celebrate this holiday when our world seems to be spinning out of control?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with CNN that Israel is reconsidering its plans for a nuclear energy facility in light of what happened in Japan. The interview is set to be aired later on Thursday.
Japan said Wednesday that further assistance from the United States was needed to help keep the nuclear cores at a power plant from overheating, after last week's quake and tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling systems.
Almost as soon as the catastrophe in Japan began unfolding last Friday, Jewish groups scrambled to figure out how to get help to the area. In Israel, search-and-rescue organizations like ZAKA and IsraAid readied teams to head to the Japanese devastation zone. In Tokyo, the Chabad center took an accounting of local Jews and began organizing a shipment of aid to stricken cities to the north. In the United States, aid organizations ranging from B’nai B’rith International to local and national federation agencies launched campaigns to collect money for rescue, relief and rebuilding efforts in the Pacific.
Japan faced a potential catastrophe Tuesday after a quake-crippled nuclear power plant exploded and sent low levels of radiation floating toward Tokyo, prompting some people to flee the capital and others to stock up on essential supplies.
A third explosion in four days rocked the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeast Japan early Tuesday, the country's nuclear safety agency said. The blast at Dai-ichi Unit 2 followed two hydrogen explosions at the plant - the latest on Monday - as authorities struggle to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami.
A civilian Israeli search-and-rescue team left for Japan in the aftermath of a major earthquake and tsunami.
Jewish organizations are mobilizing their responses to the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday.
The speech that Russ Feingold gave to end his career in the U.S. Senate was much like his career itself: by turns crystal clear, obscure, ornery, defiant and gracious -- and quoting a fellow Great Plains Jew to boot.
Some 50 South Indian villagers are spread out along the sandy beach. Women clad in brightly colored saris converse in groups, while men repair fishing nets. Teenage boys playfully tackle each other.
Then, the residents of Vellakoil get some news from fellow clansmen: Dangerous weather is on the way.
A year ago, when the tsunami hit, 19 died in this village of less than 500; 14 were children. And everyone's house and belongings were washed away.
This time, they are ready.
KANCHIPURAM DISTRICT, INDIA -- The bright, clear morning of Dec. 26, 2004, would forever change S. Desingu's life.
The first monster wave rose from the Sea of Bengal without warning at 8 a.m. -- silently, massively.
For the Indian fishermen at sea, the startling energy pulse bumped harmlessly under their boats, passing in an instant. The wave started to rise ominously in the shallows.
Onshore, the 36-year-old Desingu glanced up to see a 30-foot liquid wall surging in as tall as the tops of the soaring coconut palms. The fishing craft along the shore rolled end over end, tossed as easily as playthings in a bathtub.
Do the words "innovative" and "Jewish groups" seem like oxymorons? Not to the publishers of "Slingshot," a new guidebook to the "50 most innovative Jewish groups in North America," published by a division of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies.
Last December, as the world tried to grapple with the devastating scope of the tsunami that hit South Asia -- at last count, the death toll stood at nearly 300,000 -- the tragedy became fodder for fatuous religious discussions, focusing on an ancient question: How can a just, good, all-powerful, all-loving God allow evil to happen and innocents to suffer?
The contrast was just too much. On one channel, I watched as tens of thousands of people struggled to survive the devastating impact of the tsunami that left more than 250,000 dead and countless others injured and homeless, and on another channel, presenters at last month's Golden Globe Awards leaving the ceremonies with their "travel-themed" gift baskets worth $37,890 each.
When 50 Israelis who survived the devastating Dec. 26 tsunami were stranded in Sri Lanka, El Al made good on its commitment to organize and operate rescue missions.
"When there is a problem, Israelis will go out of their way to help other Israelis," said Nira Dror, the Israeli airline's vice president and general manager of North and Central American operations.
Local and national Jewish organizations have mobilized to help tsunami victims and invite the community to participate, as well.
Ten minutes after the tsunami hit, my phone started ringing. It's been ringing ever since, 24 hours a day -- husbands looking for wives, mothers looking for daughters, friends looking for their traveling companions.
I was on the island of Koh Lanta on Dec. 26. Koh Lanta is just east of Phuket and Ko Phi Phi Island and part of the province of Krabi, Thailand.
The island is made up of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. I had visited this small island earlier in the year, and was blown away both by the kindness of all the inhabitants, as well as its natural beauty.
For thousands of young Israelis, the sun-drenched archipelagos of Southeast Asia were the perfect destination to forget the rigors of military service.
But this week, that post-Zionist nirvana became a nightmare. The tsunami that swept India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Andaman Islands on Sunday plunged hundreds of Israeli families into a frenzy of worry over relatives feared lost while touring.