While continuing to raise funds for Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake, B’nai B’rith President Dennis Glick said, “It is difficult to accept the fact that two devastating disasters can come so close to each other. Yet, we cannot allow that coincidence of timing to affect our commitment to help the victims.”
The Chilean Jewish community has organized itself to assist the tremendous amount of casualties through a centralized Emergency Committee, led by B’nai B’rith staff and volunteer leaders, that will coordinate all Jewish community efforts.
“So far we know of no Jewish casualties, although communications are difficult and few. Some synagogues and a cemetery in Santiago and Temuco have been damaged, and we will try to help them in any way we can,” B’nai B’rith Chile President Andres Zeldis reports. “The population in some areas in the south of Chile is in a terrible and traumatic situation, in many cases with no electricity, water, and food. Vandalism and riots, previously unheard of in Chile, have occurred in many places, and the government has been unable to respond to the situation, although some order has been brought to the city of Concepcion, the largest city in the south.”
The 8.8 magnitude earthquake—the world’s fifth worst—is estimated to have damaged or destroyed more than 500,000 homes and countless commercial structures.
“The massive scale of the earthquake will require an international support network,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin. “After the short-term needs have been met, we will turn our attention to helping to rebuild lives in the face of this tragedy.”
B’nai B’rith has been engaged in disaster relief since 1865. The BBI Disaster Relief Fund has provided aid to populations affected by natural and man-made catastrophes around the world. To date, it has raised more than $240,000 for Haitian relief.
Donations may be made by mail to: B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund, Attn: Chile, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006.