TORONTO — Last week, Jewish federations across Canada set up relief funds for flood victims in Pakistan, as did Ve’ahavta – the Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee.
Both the federations and Ve’ahavta will funnel their aid through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which is collecting funds to provide victims with food, clothing, medicine and other necessities.
Linda Kisclowicz, executive vice-president of UIA Federations Canada, told The CJN that the JDC works with “partners on the ground” in Pakistan. JDC provides aid in countries around the world for victims of natural and man-made disasters. It also helped Pakistanis after the 2005 and 2008 earthquakes and implemented relief efforts in Haiti following the earthquake this year.
“We always believe we have a broader responsibility to help people who are in serious need,” said Kislowicz. “The impact of this is enormous, and it keeps getting worse every day.”
As of Monday morning, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto had raised $11,400 for the Pakistan flood relief fund that it set up two days earlier, said Howard English, the federation’s vice-president of strategic communications.
English clarified that the money allocated for relief in Pakistan is separate from money collected in UJA’s annual campaign and does not affect campaign allocations.
Avrum Rosensweig, Ve’ahavta’s president and founder, said the magnitude of the recent crisis is very tragic. “We wish everybody well, and we hope dearly that the Jewish people can play an important role in making it better for these men, women and children, and that we establish strong friendships and partnerships on the ground in Pakistan.”
Rosensweig said that Jewish involvement is important, despite the fact that “people [there] are not necessarily considered our friends.
“I don’t see it as helping our enemies. I see it as helping people at the worst time of their lives.”
That is the primary reason, he noted, but he said he also hopes that “there will be an understanding that the Jewish people are playing a role.”
As of last Friday, the morning after its fund was established, Ve’ahavta was funnelling donations through the JDC, and looking into other opportunities as well, he said.
By Monday morning, the organization had raised about $3,000.
Flooding began late last month, and at least 1,600 people have been announced dead. More than 20 million people have lost their homes, and more than 6,000 villages and towns have been swept away by the floods, as one-fifth of the country is under water.
With files from Ha’aretz and JTA