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In light of the devastating inferno that wreaked havoc in Northern Israel and left a path of destruction in its wake, the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) has set up a special
Young Israel Charity Fund to send much-needed funds to Israel to help overcome this natural disaster. Approximately 12,500 acres in Northern Israel were decimated by the fire, and more than 40 people were killed due to the out-of-control blaze. Since its launch only several days ago, the Young Israel Charity Fund has already raised more than $20,000, all of which will go directly to the emergency effort.

The money raised by the National Council of Young Israel is being sent to the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC), which oversees over 60 organizations, including NGOs, government ministries and Home Front Command to ensure a comprehensive view of needs, delivery of services in a timely fashion and the creation of a continuum of trauma care. The organizations are involved in direct care, training and supervision, and creating responses and preparedness at both the municipal and national levels.

Contributions should be made payable to “Young Israel Charities – Israel Trauma Coalition” and mailed to the National Council of Young Israel, 111 John Street, Suite 450, New York, New York, 10038. Donations can also be made online at (simply click on “Donate” and select “Israel Trauma Coalition”) or by clicking here. For more information about this important initiative, call the National Council of Young Israel at 212-929-1525.

“The weeks and months ahead are going to be particularly difficult for all those families and communities who lost loved ones and whose lives were impacted by this catastrophic event,” said NCYI President Shlomo Z. Mostofsky. “We are proud that the Young Israel family has once again answered the call for help and is generously offering financial assistance to those who need it most. Our hearts go out to those who have lost family members, and we hope and pray that the State of Israel and the Jewish nation will be able to quickly overcome this terrible disaster.”

Since the fire broke out, ITC has been working virtually non-stop to provide emergency aid in this unprecedented situation. The fire consumed large areas around Haifa and entire areas have been destroyed, with unimaginable loss of lives and property. ITC sprung into action and operated emergency protocol to help respond to, and deal with, the deadly fire.

ITC’s hotline has received hundreds of calls from people who have lost friends and family in the disaster, individuals who have had to leave their houses and are reliving post traumatic symptoms from the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and people who are anxious and afraid for their families.

ITC set up a situation room at the nearest working ITC organization Amcha branch in Haifa. Amcha is operating to collect all assistance requests on one hand, and offers for support and assistance on the other hand. A team of clinicians and therapists was sent by Amcha to support Prison Service staff as they are coping with the tragic death of their friends and colleagues. In addition, ITC is working to establish future support and professional aid for hundreds of families evacuated from their homes, and the staff currently working with them. Connections were made with Fire Fighters, Prison Service, Magen David Adom and Zaka, who have recruited volunteers and are now still dealing with life saving tasks. ITC is also now recruiting its available professionals for the treatment and support of individuals, families and different teams, which would need its services.

In addition, ITC is working closely with Yemin Orde, a village for youths at risk which was massively damaged by the fire. 500 youths are now homeless and traumatized with nowhere left to go. Many come from broken homes, are orphans or are immigrants. ITC is working to help the youths, who have already been through so much in their lives, to recover from this ordeal.

NCYI has been in touch with Talia Levanon, the Executive Director of the Israel Trauma Coalition, who wrote the following in an email message to the NCYI:

“On behalf of all the ITC member organizations, I wish to express our deepest gratitude to everyone involved at Young Israel for your most timely response and concern. Since the news of the fire broke, the ITC has been working around the clock, coordinating our emergency response efforts in concert and collaboration with our partner organizations to provide individual trauma care to the families of the prison cadets who so tragically lost their lives and beginning to deal with the long-term needs that will result from this horrendous fire.”

“It gave me tremendous encouragement and strength to know that you were standing right by us and we are all very moved by your spirit, initiative and genuine commitment to helping those in desperate need. Your heartfelt generosity and encouragement has truly touched us all and it provides us all with hope and strength that in the face of this terrible tragedy, together we can make a difference.”

In an email sent yesterday to the NCYI from Ruth Bar-On, the director and founder of SELA, a member of the ITC that works for new immigrants who do not have a support system, often do not know the language, and are generally unfamiliar with life in Israel, she wrote the following:

“Thank you for taking such quick action during this emergency. It is of great help to know that you are with us in Israel’s time of trouble.”

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