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Emergency Assistance to Victims of the Jerusalem Hills Forest Fires

Keren Hayesod and The Jewish Agency for Israel


Home PageNewsletter August 2021

Dear Friends of Keren Hayesod,

Since Sunday, August 15, wild forest fires have ravaged the Jerusalem Hills, just a mere 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the capital. Over the course of three days, thousands of individuals from more than a dozen nearby towns and villages were forced to evacuate. Two Jewish Agency programs have been directly affected. The first is the Kiryat Yearim Youth Village. Fortunately, the school year has not begun yet and no students are currently living at the campus. Our staff were able to evacuate safely. The second is our Kibbutz Ulpan program located in Kibbutz Tzuba. Ulpan participants have been evacuated to Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem and are able to resume their studies under the hospitality of our incredible staff there.

Initial reports indicate that some 20,000 dunams (5,0000 acres) have been destroyed, turning the sky dark for two days. Already, this fire has neared the scale of the 2010 Mt. Carmel forest fire that burned 24,000 dunams and claimed the lives of 44 people. Thankfully, due to the swift and professional actions of the authorities, people were able to evacuate quickly.

As of Wednesday morning, most of the fire’s hot spots have been contained, and some community members were able to return to their homes. Unfortunately, some returned to see nothing but the charred structure of their houses and businesses.

Photo courtesy of Avi Hayun and Asaf Abras

The Response:

Keren Hayesod-UIA and The Jewish Agency for Israel, are mobilizing to offer immediate emergency assistance to the victims of these fires. We will provide:

  • Special grants in the amount of 4,000 NIS to each family whose home was entirely destroyed and/or has been structurally damaged and cannot be lived in for the foreseeable future. This monetary grant is meant to assist these families with their immediate needs following this devastating event. Currently, there are 11 families in need. Total funding requested: $13,650 USD.
  • Special grants in the amount of 10,000 NIS to each business whose physical location was entirely destroyed and/or has been structurally damaged and cannot be utilized for the foreseeable future. Currently, there are 10 businesses in need, including one winery and nine farms. Total funding requested: $31,050.
  • 250 activity kits for families who have not been able to return to their homes due to the proximity to the fire. Currently, there are 50 families in need. Total funding requested: $3,880.
  • A training course for volunteer firefighters from the region, which will give them the skills to support professional firefighters during times of emergency and train residents in how to respond to wild fires. This will be offered under the auspices of JReady, the Jewish Agency partnership between Beit Shemesh-Matte Yehuda-South Africa and the local regional council. Unfortunately, we have come to learn that fires are something we will need to contend with in the coming years. Total funding requested: $25,000.

It should be noted that this emergency assistance is separate from The Jewish Agency’s Fund for the Victims of Terror (supported by Keren Hayesod) as the fires have not been formally recognized as acts of terror. We have established a separate fund, not part of, but based upon the proven, working platform and mechanism of The Fund for the Victims of Terror which has its own regulations and criteria. This will allow us to operate immediately.

The people of Israel need your support!

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