NEW YORK (Oct. 16)
Jewish organizations have raised more than $6 million for relief efforts stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Like the myriad of other charitable organizations raising money for victims of the terrorist attacks, they are proceeding cautiously in deciding how to allocate those funds.
An estimated $850 million has been raised for relief efforts in general, through a wide variety of organizations, campaigns and corporate gifts.
While some of the Jewish organizations are collecting more money for Sept. 11 relief than they have for other humanitarian disaster relief efforts, others are raising less or the same.
Some Jewish officials say that is because there are so many venues raising money.
“There’s been such an outpouring from everywhere, whereas usually we’re one of the few organizations collecting for international disasters,” said Jessica Alexander, a spokeswoman for the American Jewish World Service, which has raised approximately $450,000 for Sept. 11 relief efforts.
All Jewish groups interviewed said they are not taking out any money for overhead costs and that their funds will assist both Jews and non-Jews.
With the money has come concerns about its distribution. Those involved with the aid efforts worry that because it is such a decentralized and vast pool of money, some victims will go overlooked while others will receive duplicate help from multiple sources.
In addition, it is not yet clear what sort of government and insurance benefits many families of victims will receive.
“Other than making short-term emergency grants, we will pause and make certain that our funds are used for areas that have not been covered by the government or other philanthropic areas, and therefore are used for maximum relief effort both short term and longer term,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president of the UJA-Federation of Greater New York.
The New York federation has raised more than $2 million so far for a fund that will benefit terrorist victims in Israel as well as those affected by the domestic terrorist attacks.
That fund was in the process of being created this summer– initially just for terrorist victims in Israel — and was expanded to include United States victims after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In addition, the federation expects to receive money through the North American federation system’s United Jewish Communities and The New York Times, which is raising money for several New York social service agencies.
Those funds will be reserved for victims of the American attacks only.
The AJWS says it hopes to give the majority of the money it raises to low-income families affected by the attacks, particularly people who have lost their jobs as a result.
“Because there’s such an outpouring of money, we’re really looking to meet the unmet needs of low-income people,” Alexander said.
While much remains to determined, the following actions have already been taken:
The United Jewish Communities, the umbrella for Jewish federations in North America, has established an emergency fund that has already collected $3.5 million. That includes monies raised by local federations around the country or allocated directly from federations.
Jewish agencies serving the families of terrorist victims are applying to the UJC fund to help individuals with such things as counseling, and personal and medical expenses stemming from the terrorist attacks.
So far, approximately 30 individuals and families are being served through Jewish federation agencies outside New York, according to Barry Swartz, the UJC professional overseeing the emergency fund.
The fund is expected to assist victims affected by both the New York and Washington attacks.
Among its first actions, UJA-Federation of Greater New York has made emergency grants to the Orthodox Union, to provide people to fill night shifts at Jewish funeral homes — and has given more than $500,000 in loan guarantees to the Hebrew Free Loan Society.
Many of the federation’s agencies, such as the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, are offering direct services, such as crisis counseling, to people affected by the attacks. It is not yet clear how much aid they will get to fund this work.
The Reform movement’s Union of American Hebrew Congregations has raised approximately $300,000 so far, but is still expecting more money from numerous synagogue fund raisers. It has allocated a combined $200,000 to the September 11 Fund of the United Way and New York Community Trust, and has not yet decided where the rest of its money will go.
The AJWS has made grants to two groups that offered counseling shortly after the attacks in New York, as well as to a group that organized volunteers to provide meals for rescue works and help with the cleanup efforts.
B’nai B’rith International, which has raised approximately $100,000, plans to allocate most of the money to counseling centers assisting terrorist victims.
The National Council of Young Israel, an umbrella group for approximately 100 Orthodox synagogues, is raising money to give to a variety of groups, including the American Red Cross, the UJC emergency fund, funds for families of New York police and firefighters and New York Jewish agencies that have offered assistance in response to the attacks.