Israel Pledges $1M in Aid to Storm-Struck Jewish Community

Hurricane Harvey Aftermath AP 2

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel is reaching out to the Jewish community in Houston, Texas, in wake of the devastation from hurricane Harvey.

"The Jewish state is measured by its response when our brothers around the world are in crisis," said Ministry of Diaspora Affairs head Naftali Bennet. ("Diaspora" refers to Jews who live outside of the State of Israel.)

Israel is often at the forefront sending aid, search-and-rescue teams, and setting up field hospitals after natural disasters.

Last week, Israeli humanitarian aid organizations and the American Jewish community were among the first international aid groups on the scene in Texas.

But this governmental aid specifically to the storm-struck Jewish community is being hailed as  'unprecedented."

It's time for the Jewish state to help our brothers in the Diaspora," Bennett said.

Houston's Jewish community numbers about 60,000. It suffered "substantial damage" from the storm.

"The city of Houston was hurt badly last week, and the Jewish community, 70 percent of which lived in the flooded neighborhoods, was hit hard," Bennett said in a statement.

"Schools and synagogues were flooded and can't be used. The old-age home and JCC (Jewish Community Center) were damaged, and hundreds of families will remain homeless," he added.

The funds from Israel will be used to repair and restore those community facilities, Bennett said.

According to Bennett, Jewish community leaders and Israel's consul general said the "damage is vast."  They estimate the rehabilitation will take years.

"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," he said.

The aid will be brought up for government approval next week and is expected to pass unanimously.


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