JFED organizes crisis relief for Georgia

Jewish Federation of St. Louis has joined the Federations of North America and United Jewish Communities to accept emergency donations to assist Jews and the general population in the Democratic Republic of Georgia/South Ossetia. The region has been engulfed in a military conflict.

Overseas Federation partner agencies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) maintain services in the region and are assisting the local Jewish community, which is estimated at 7,000-12,000 people. JAFI and JDC estimate some $2 million in potential emergency and longer-term needs.

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UJC’s President and CEO, Howard Rieger, said core overseas funding provided by the UJC/Federation system’s Annual Campaign has enabled this “robust ” local infrastructure to respond quickly to the crisis.

Tens of thousands have been displaced while fleeing the fighting. An estimated 750 Jewish refugees have fled mainly to Tbilisi and across the border to Russia.

JAFI, through its office in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, where most of the Jewish community lives, coordinated the evacuation of 200 Jews and is helping Georgian Jews immigrate to Israel, along with some 600 Israelis stranded during the strife.

The crisis erupted at a time when the purchasing power of overseas funding has declined more than 25 percent, due in part to the falling value of the dollar and global inflation.

As a result of these economic forces and the conflict affecting so many people, “we are bringing the power of our federation system to bear on this situation, first by opening a mailbox and online effort to raise additional emergency aid, ” Rieger added.

Secure online donations can be made via www.jewishinstlouis.org.