Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is set to send $1 million in emergency aid to the Jewish community of Houston after its devastation by Hurricane Harvey last week.
“The Jewish State is measured by its response when our brothers around the world are in crisis,” explained MK Naftali Bennett, who heads the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
The aid, which Bennett’s office called “unprecedented”, will be brought for government approval at the next meeting. Once passed, the Israeli government will transfer the money through the local Consulate, which will apportion it to help repair and restore communal infrastructure such as schools, synagogues, and community centers (JCCs) affected by the massive hurricane and subsequent flooding.
Hurricane Harvey has already been responsible for dozens of deaths, and has left hundreds of thousands of Texans homeless and stranded due to flooding. The city’s large Jewish community of about 60,000 people suffered substantial damage, with approximately 70 percent of the community living within the flooded areas.
“Many of the schools and synagogues cannot be used, the old-age home – home to some 300 senior citizens – suffered from water damage and the JCC was badly affected,” a statement from Bennett’s office reported.
The homes of thousands of Jewish families were also damaged. Many are living in temporary housing, and emergency campsites have been constructed for those in need.
Bennett emphasized that Israel has a responsibility towards Diaspora Jews.
“For years the Jewish communities stood by Israel when it needed their help; now it is our turn to stand by Houston’s Jewish community,” the minister said.
A number of private Israeli organizations have also sent emergency aid to Houston, including the Israel Rescue Coalition, which dispatched a team of psychotrauma experts to help Harvey’s victims in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
“The community in Houston and the people of Texas feel a strong connection to the State of Israel and many of them are big supporters of the state and of the Jewish People. It is therefore our responsibility to help them in their time of need,” said mission leader Miriam Ballin.