Philippines and the Jewish people; bound by compassion

In the days since Typhoon Haiyan barreled into the Philippines, the Jewish Federations of North America have collectively raised nearly half a million dollars to aid the recovery effort.

Federation CJA has raised more than $100,000 and is working with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Federations of Canada (UIA), supporting the relief efforts through the Israeli-based humanitarian organization IsraAID. IsraAID is an aid agency that responds to emergency crises and engages in international development around the world.

The CJA Facebook page contains more pictures of our partners at IsraAID on the field. Click on the photo above to see pictures of our partners in action.

On Nov. 11, a seven-person IsraAID team including medical, trauma and relief specialists landed in the Philippines and travelled to Tacloban, a coastal city of 220,000 nearly destroyed in the typhoon. Meanwhile, an IDF field hospital, working with American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), treated more than 2,600 people before returning home.

The typhoon — the strongest recorded storm on record with winds of over 150 miles per hour – devastated the central and southern Philippines, killing at least 4,000 and displacing more than four million people. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News Chief Medical Editor, was in awe of the Jewish relief efforts on the ground. Click here for her report from the frontlines.

“We are so proud to continue to support JDC and our other partner agencies, which are performing critical, life-saving work in the face of unimaginable suffering,” said Cheryl Fishbein, chair of the JFNA Emergency Committee.

The CJA Facebook page contains more pictures of our partners at IsraAID on the field. Click on the photo above to see pictures of our partners in action.

As it turns out, a JDC team member is descended from a family of German Jews who found safe haven in the island nation before World War II, along with more than 1,000 others. Before and during World War II, the Philippines helped settle and care for Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany in Manila. The operation, hatched by the Frieder Brothers of Cincinnati and approved by President Manuel L. Quezon, saved the lives of more than 1,000 people from almost certain death in the Holocaust.

Alex Frieder, left, and his brother Herbert with President Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippines, right, in 1940.

Manila then received 30 German Jewish refugee families from Shanghai, which then started a larger program that would eventually rescue 1300 refugee Jews from Europe between 1937 and 1941, the largest influx of Jews in Philippine history.

The documentary film Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust tells this gripping story through interviews with historians, friends and relatives of key participants and first person accounts from refugees who detail their harrowing escape.

As we continue to raise funds to ensure lifesaving relief through our local partners, we remember the role the Philippines played in the Jewish people’s time of need and hope to repay the nation with the same spirit of kindness.

For an update on IsraAid activities in the Philippines, please click here.

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