On March 11, 2011, Japan was pounded by a powerful 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that brought tremendous destruction and significant loss of life. We remember the 19,000 lives that were lost and those injured or displaced by this tragedy.
B’nai B’rith immediately opened its Disaster Relief Fund, which helped bring IsraAID’s (The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid) emergency teams quickly to Japan (B’nai B’rith is a founding member of IsraAID). These specialists were able to assist in much needed relief efforts in the devastated areas and assessed what would be needed for long-term recovery. B’nai B’rith also contributed funds to create child friendly spaces in the temporary relief centers housing displaced survivors. We provided school supplies, computers and printers for the shelters, educational equipment for teachers, games and musical instruments.
Six months after the disaster, B’nai B’rith was privileged to meet with Shachar Zahavi, IsraAID’s director, and Raiko Watanabe, director of the Watari-cho Choujido Center in Japan. The two were in New York to deservedly receive an award from the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Watanabe shared her experiences saying, “A lot of relief and equipment came from all over the world and people also sent beautiful letters of hope and support, but IsraAID is the only organization that supported our heart.”
B’nai B’rith continued to respond to unmet needs and provided additional funds to assist IsraAID with the establishment of the Voices of Tohoku, a program to support teachers and members of the community dealing with the loss of their students, family and community members. IsraAID remains in Japan to assist with the physical and emotional needs of the communities still affected by the disaster.
This tragic anniversary reminds us that we can only respond quickly to disasters around the world when funds are readily available to do so. The ongoing financial support of the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund makes this possible. Please help by making a donation today and sharing this request with your family and friends.
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