Assisting Natural Disaster Victims in the United States
The B'nai B'rith International Center for Community Action (CCA) helps B'nai B'rith serve individual Jewish communities and the world, providing disaster relief and services to those in need, promoting respect for others and celebrating diversity, and offering a helping hand.
B’nai B’rith has responded to natural and manmade disasters since 1865. We need your help to continue to make a difference in the lives of those who have been affected by disasters. Please help us expand the reach of our message by sharing this information with your family, friends and associates.
Tree of Life Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Disaster Relief Fund
On Dec. 6, 2019, B’nai B’rith Senior Vice President and Disaster and Emergency Relief Committee Chair Rebecca Saltzman travelled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to meet with staff from the Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh (JFCS) and presented a check for $25,600 to aid mental health programming for survivors of the horrific attack on Oct. 27, 2018, at the Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 worshippers dead and wounded many more. Funds will also be used to assist first responders and support a community memorial.
Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund
B’nai B’rith International has opened its Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund to help those who might be impacted by natural disasters this year. The Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund will be kept open to aid those who might be caught in the path of future storms.
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Donations may also be made by mail to: B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund, 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006.
Tornadoes and Flooding in the South and Midwest
In April 2011, a series of tornadoes and subsequent floods hit six states in the U.S. South and Midwest. Upwards of 300 people were killed and hundreds of buildings destroyed. The B’nai B’rith Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund raised more than $25,000 to prepare and distribute humanitarian relief kits to affected communities.
Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), the Jewish fraternity with which B’nai B’rith has a partnership relationship, created 1,000 kits for victims of the flooding at its annual convention in August, 2011. The kits included personal hygiene items, school supplies for students, kitchen and home products and activity kits for children. The fraternity brothers even included personal messages of support in each of the kits.
During the summer of 2011, Hurricane Irene pummeled the East Coast of the U.S. with gale force winds, heavy rains and massive flooding that caused widespread damage. The B’nai B’rith Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund opened to aid the victims of this disaster. B’nai B’rith donated funds, and we have provided funding for a volunteer Jewish domestic relief agency, NECHAMA, to help bring clean-up and rebuilding teams to assist the area and victims of the spring flooding. An opportunity to provide assistance to the victims of disaster using additional volunteer skills that can be provided by B’nai B’rith members is under consideration for development.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
In August 2005, in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, B'nai B'rith raised more than $1.1 million to assist the victims of these deadly storms with initial emergency response and ongoing funding. In 2010, B'nai B'rith continued its long-term aid by sponsoring a project for 500 Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) students and alumni. These volunteers painted and spruced up the grounds of New Orleans City Park in conjunction with the fraternity’s 97th Anniversary Convention.
> Read the B'nai B'rith Magazine article about the community service event.
B'nai B'rith Roots in Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Aid
In 1843, Henry Jones and 11 other German-Jewish immigrants gathered in Sinsheimer's Café on New York's Lower East Side to confront what Isaac Rosenbourg, one of B'nai B'rith's founders, called "the deplorable condition of Jews in this, our newly adopted country."
Thus, B'nai B'rith (children of the covenant) was born.
The original members' first concrete action was creating an insurance policy that awarded members' widows $30 toward funeral expenses, and a stipend of one dollar a week for the rest of their lives. Each child would also receive a stipend and, for male children, assurance he would be taught a trade.
It is from this basis of humanitarian aid and service that a system of fraternal lodges and chapters grew in the United States and, eventually, around the world.
Many of the earliest achievements of B'nai B'rith represented firsts within the Jewish community, including aid in response to disasters:
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