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Potential disaster zonesThe Jewish Federations of North America has opened an emergency relief fund to provide aid and support to the victims of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, and to help those in other affected zones such as Hawaii and the U.S. mainland’s West Coast.

Donations can be made to the Japan, Hawaii and the Pacific Relief Fund online, by texting RELIEF to 51818, or through our national mailbox at The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. JFNA is also working with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to support relief efforts.

The JFNA Emergency Committee will be conducting a needs-assessment process in the coming days, in association with partners including the JDC, to determine the short- and long-term needs arising from this disaster and how to best allocate funds raised. JFNA will continue to monitor and report on this process.

Already, JDC has been in touch with the Japanese Jewish community in Tokyo, and distributed emergency supplies, including food and hygiene products, through JEN, a local Japanese NGO. JEN, which is currently operating in the hardest-hit Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, focuses on shelter reconstruction, support of the socially vulnerable and emergency supply distribution.

Disaster victims’ needs are shifting, as the situation on the ground in Japan changes. Following last week’s earthquake and tsunami, Japan is now facing a potential nuclear crisis. Explosions at a major power plant in the earthquake zone left radioactive fuel rods at risk of meltown after generators shut off cooling systems. Radiation levels now threaten to rise to the levels of the Three Mile Island catastrophe, in 1979.

Japanese officials have so far confirmed the deaths of 5,692 people, while more than 9,500 remain missing. Japanese officials say 452,000 people are currently living in shelters, and thousands more are expected to become homeless as the threat of radiation forces further evacuations. 

Japan quake tsunami damage

Credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Comm.Specialist 1st Class Matthew M. Bradley

The earthquake, which was the largest in Japan in more than 100 years, struck about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo. A devastating tsunami with reported waves of 30 feet followed, submerging entire coastal towns. Resulting tsunamis waves been since been felt across the Pacific, with possible damage feared as far away as Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.

Early indications show that Japan’s Jewish community of approximately 1,000 people, most of whom are located in or around Tokyo, has been largely unaffected. JFNA will continue to closely monitor this as details emerge.     

"The Jewish Federations send our deepest sympathy to people affected by this terrible event," said Fred Zimmerman, chair of JFNA’s Emergency Committee. “We are determined to provide emergency relief as quickly as possible and to work with our partners to provide support over the longer term as well.”

Smoke rises from a burning building in Tokyo after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake

JFNA and Jewish Federations are committed to care for victims of global natural disasters, and have emergency relief plans into place to aid those in need. In 2005, Jewish Federations raised nearly $30 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, and approximately $10 million for those affected by the tsunami in southern Asia in 2004.

Please visit this page to keep updated about the situation and the Federation response. JFNA will continue to provide reports as necessary.