Israel looks to send $1 million in aid to flooded Houston Jewish community

September 8, 2017

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JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry is advancing a plan to send $1 million in emergency aid to Houston’s flood-hit Jewish community.

In announcing the plan Monday, Sept. 4, Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett called it an “unprecedented” opportunity for Israel to repay world Jewry, which has helped the Jewish state in times of need.

“The Jewish State is measured by its response when our brothers around the world are in crisis,” Bennett said in a statement. “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.”

Bennett’s office said the plan would be finalized in “the next few days” and presented for Cabinet approval first thing next week. The money would be transferred through Israel’s consulate in Houston and would go toward repairing and rebuilding local schools, synagogues, and Jewish community centers damaged by tropical storm Harvey.

“From talks we’ve had over the past week with the heads of the community and Israel’s Consul General we learned the damage [to the Houston Jewish community from the storm] is vast, and the rehabilitation will take years,” Bennett said.

Israeli groups last week joined local Jewish institutions on the ground. The Israeli humanitarian group IsrAID rushed to Texas to provide supplies, remove debris and lead stress relief and recreational activities. United Hatzalah, a volunteer emergency service, sent its psychological first aid unit.

According to a recent report issued by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, American Jews give well over $2 billion to Israel every year, accounting for 9 percent of donations to the Jewish state. They contribute about another $12 billion through investments, exports and tourism, the report said. The U.S. government provides Israel $3 billion in annual military assistance.

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