Israeli government approves $1 million aid to Houston Jewish institutions


People making their way out of a flooded neighborhood after it was inundated with rain water following Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Aug. 29, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli government approved a proposal to send a $1 million aid package to help rebuild Jewish institutions in Houston.

The package was proposed by Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett in response to Hurricane Harvey. The Cabinet unanimously approved the aid on Sunday at its regular weekly meeting.

In announcing the plan on Sept. 4, 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.”

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The money reportedly will be transferred through Israel’s consulate in Houston and would go toward repairing and rebuilding local Jewish schools, synagogues and Jewish community centers damaged by tropical storm Harvey.

Houston’s Jewish community was particularly hard hit. The local Jewish Federation said 71 percent of the city’s more than 60,000 Jews, including 12,000 seniors, live in areas that were flooded due to Harvey. Some of their houses were submerged in as much as eight feet of water. The local Jewish Family Service said dozens of Jewish families were either evacuated or moved to the second floors of their homes due to flooding.

The Evelyn Rubinstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, the city’s only JCC, was flooded with 10 feet of water, and Jewish schools experienced major flooding.

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