The Jewish Federations of North America is partnering with Catholic Charities to manage a distribution site for relief supplies in Norman, Oklahoma for residents hit by last month’s devastating tornado. That is only part of the wider Jewish Federations relief effort that so far has raised some $415,000 in donations both to JFNA and in direct support to the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City.
A mile-wide tornado tore through Moore, OK a suburb of Oklahoma City, last month, killing 24 people and wiping out many homes, businesses and institutions. Federations across the continent are enhancing the JFNA relief efforts with their own campaigns supporting the Oklahoma City Federation’s efforts. In fact, Tidewater’s Jewish community approved the contribution of funds from the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Tidewater Jewish Foundation to help the people of Moore, Oklahoma. The funds are being sent to the Oklahoma City Federation.
Meanwhile, philanthropist Foster Friess has sent $250,000 through the National Christian Foundation directly to the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, among other organizations, to help victims of the tornado. The Federation already has projects planned for some of the funds, though Edie Roodman, the Federation executive director, says an ongoing needs assessment will help determine which projects get carried out.
The Federation is purchasing and distributing gift cards of between $25 and $100 to families in Moore, so they can get “the necessities to begin building back their lives,” Roodman says.
The Federation also intends to partner with Oklahoma City Beautiful and the Moore Parks and Recreation Department to repair and rebuild the parks that have been destroyed. Roodman also plans for the Federation to collaborate with the Moore Public Schools Foundation Board to help build at least two playgrounds at two schools flattened by the deadly storm.
Roodman added the Federation will consider helping the schools create sustainable gardens. She is also planning to ask a local organic farmer, who went last year on a Federation-led agricultural mission to Israel, to collaborate with the director of Oklahoma City Beautiful, who was on the same mission, to plant trees at the schools in Moore.
“Planting trees is so significant in Jewish life,” says Roodman. “It signifies rebirth and renewal and repair, all of which we are called to do in response to this kind of destruction. It affirms life and that is central to our tradition.”
To mail a donation, send it to:
The JFNA Oklahoma City Tornado Relief Fund
c/o The Jewish Federations of North America
Wall Street Station
PO Box 157
New York, NY 10268