Israeli volunteers head to N.Y. to help in Sandy relief efforts

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A delegation of Israeli volunteers has left for the United States to assist members of New York’s Jewish community in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The volunteers, young adult Russian speakers, are in pre-army volunteer programs and other programs run by the Israeli scouts, as well as former camp counselors at Jewish Agency summer camps in the former Soviet Union.

The delegation is scheduled to remain in New York for ten days and assist the Jewish community, with a focus on Russian speakers, according to the Jewish Agency. They will be integrated into local relief efforts in areas hard-hit by Sandy.

Some 200,000 Russian-speaking Jews reside in the northeastern United States, in areas badly damaged by the storm. Many of the elderly Russian-speaking Jews live in multi-story buildings in the New York area, some which are still without electricity or phone service. The storm also damaged Jewish communal buildings causing the cancellation of many community and social services.

The volunteers will help to distribute food and other essential items to elderly members of the community and provide social visits so that they do not feel cut off from the rest of the world. They also will clean communal buildings and synagogues which suffered heavy damage in the storm.

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