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Three Israeli families trapped after deadly earthquake in Turkey

NEW YORK, Aug. 18 (JTA) — Three Israeli families — between 10 and 14 people, including children — are trapped in a collapsed building approximately 75 miles from Istanbul, Turkey as a result of a massive earthquake this week that claimed more than 3,500 lives. In addition, at least six other Israeli tourists are missing in Turkey, said a spokesperson for the Israeli Consulate in New York. Before learning today of its own missing citizens, Israel sent a 200-member rescue team to Turkey to help dig through the rubble for survivors. Several members of that team, along with volunteers organized by the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, are now en route to help the Israelis. No Turkish Jews appear to have been killed or injured in the disaster, and none of the country’s Jewish institutions has been damaged, said Leon Levy, president of the New York-based American Sephardi Federation. “Most of the damage was not where Jews normally live,” said Levy, who is of Turkish descent and is in frequent contact with the Jewish community there. Sallai Meridor, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, was quoted in the daily Ha’aretz as saying that while none of Turkey’s 23,000 Jews was hurt in the quake, many are hesitant to return to their homes in Istanbul for fear of more houses collapsing. In recent years, Turkey — a short plane ride from Tel Aviv and a strategic ally of Israel — has become a popular tourist destination for Israelis. Several American Jewish organizations are collecting disaster relief contributions. They include:

* American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Turkey Earthquake Relief
711 Third Ave.
New York, N.Y. 10017

* American Jewish World Service
Turkish Earthquake Relief Fund
989 Avenue of the Americas
New York, N.Y. 10018
800-889-7146

* B’nai B’rith International Center for Community Action
Turkish Earthquake Relief
1640 Rhode Island Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20036 Donations can also be made via a secure server at www.bnaibrith.org

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