29 December 2004

ISFSP Soliciting Assistance for Massive Tsunami Disaster



The International Society for Sephardic Progress mobilized fund raising relief efforts for victims of the deadly earthquake and tsunamis. Making direct contact with the Jewish community and fellow Sephardim and in cooperation with Bank of America, the ISFSP aims to raise funds which will help in recovery activities.

In the disaster affected areas, the local Jewish community has set a crisis centers where survivors can call home, have a free meal or receive funds for new clothing and medical help. Over 540 Israelis have been said to be missing and local reports say there is panic, grief and confusion, amid terrible destruction and frantic calls from Israel and other countries, of relatives trying to locate their loved ones. A Belgian Jewish couple reportedly lost their 11-month-old son in the disaster. Jews from Israel, Mexico, South African, Australian and New Zealand are missing.

According to Rabbi Yosef Kantor, director of Chabad activities in Thailand, hundreds of Jews have turned to him looking for some form or another of assistance. Rabbi Kantor has retained a dozen rabbinical students who were scheduled to leave the region on Sunday, to help assist in the immediate relief efforts that include food provisions, lodging accommodations, help in locating their friends and loved ones.

At the time of this writing over 75,000 have been killed and the death toll is expected to climb higher. President George Bush called the tsunami "A terrible disaster beyond our comprehension" and called on Americans to help by donating funds. It will take months to recover from this operation and funds are needed desperately.

The ISFSP has set up a fund through Bank of America. Those wishing to help can make checks payable to the ISFSP and in the memo area write 'Tsunami Fund.' Checks may be sent to Bank of America 20 Alexandria Blvd Oviedo, FL 32765-9161. Attn. Tsunami Fund. 100% of donations will be sent to the Jewish communities in the diaster area. The ISFSP has made arrangements for those wanting to make a donation using a credit card to contact the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee at www.jdc.org or call 800-889-7146.

In addition to fund raising efforts, the ISFSP has asked that fellow Sephardic organizations and the rabbis in the Sephardic community discuss the need for assistance with their congregations. ISFSP Executive Director Shelomo Alfassa said in a statement, "We appeal to our fellow Jews to join us by giving generously for the victims of the Asian Tsunami, an event which has affected millions of people including those in the local Jewish community. In a time of disaster, there is no division-we are all one."



The International Society for Sephardic Progress is a Jewish agency developed to serve the Sephardic community--the descendants of the Jews of historic Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Levant who share both common religious and cultural bonds. Although a Sephardic organization, the ISFSP is a Jewish advocacy agency first and foremost.

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