Daily Israel Report

US Jews Escape Severe Tornado Damage, Raise Money for Victims

Jews in Alabama were only slightly affected by the deadly tornados last week but are lending a hand to help others whose homes were destroyed.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/1/2011, 3:32 PM / Last Update: 5/1/2011, 3:36 PM

Jews in Alabama were only slightly affected by the deadly tornados last week but are lending a hand to help others whose homes were destroyed. Israel also helped.

More than 350 people have been killed in the deadly twisters, the second worst outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded in the United States.

“Fortunately, much of our Jewish community was minimally affected by the storms, though we have received some calls for assistance," said Birmingham, Alabama’s Collat Jewish Family Services Executive Director Lauren Perlman.

The Birmingham Jewish Federation (BJF) said that “there was relatively little damage to our Jewish community and Jewish institutions. It is raising emergency relief funds and recruiting volunteers to help the broader Birmingham community.

Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Council for Public Affairs were in touch with the BJF after the twisters struck, and a local Federation official said, "The outpouring has been amazing."

Among those responding was the Koby Mandell Foundation of Israel. "If there's anything we can do to help your community, please let us know," wrote Sherri Mandell, the co-founder of the Foundation and whose son was one of two young boys brutally stoned to death by Arab terrorists in 2001 in Gush Etzion.

In Alabama, one Jewish donor wrote, "We are so blessed that we weren't harmed. We could be paying a huge deductible right now and facing all of the aggravation that comes with it. And most importantly, we are alive and well."

"Responding to those in need is part of who we are as Jews and our commitment to Tikkun Olam -- repairing our world," said BJF Community Relations Director Joyce Spielberger.  

One tornado south of Birmingham narrowly missed Jewish homes, which sustained damage from fallen trees, and electricity was knocked out at a synagogue and at the local Chabad Center.

Local residents were given warning of approaching twisters, which whip up winds between 110-300 miles per hour (175-480 kilometers per hour). However, the larger tornadoes were too wide and powerful for people in urban centers to escape their wrath.