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After Deadly School Siege in Russia, Jews Lending Survivors Helping Hand

In the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attack at a Russian school, Jews in Russia and around the world offered their help to survivors of the tragedy. Child survivors of the deadly terrorist attack at a Russian school in Beslan, where more than 300 people were killed Sept. 3, were invited to spend two weeks at a school in Israel.

The ORT Yad Lvovich high school in the Israeli seaside town of Netanya invited 20 survivors of the attack to visit the school, the World ORT organization said in a news release.

The Russian government is considering the invitation. Of 1,200 students in the Israeli school, 400 are from the former Soviet Union — and there are 35 Russian-speaking faculty.

Robert Singer, World ORT’s director general, said the Netanya school could offer survivors of the terrorist siege a safe environment, in addition to staff experienced in helping young people through terror-related trauma.

The American Jewish Joi! nt Distribution Committee, for its part, will send a team of Israeli post-trauma experts to Beslan and will also send a group to the city to evaluate the situation.

“It is vital to show the support of American Jewry for all those who were victims of the massacre in Russia, regardless of their race or religion,” Steven Schwager, the JDC’s executive vice president, said in a statement.

The JDC is also collecting donations to help the victims.

Last week, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, a leading Jewish umbrella organization, launched a worldwide campaign to assist children injured in the Beslan attack.

Through this initiative, the federation, which is behind the Chabad-Lubavitch operation in the area, aims to send victims urgently needed medical supplies and medicine.

“We have our community on the ground in touch with the hospitals and the families that have been affected,” said Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, the federation’s executive director.

! “We decided to get as much small direct aid as possible that will go instantly to those who need it.”

The group said it was already able to send some shipments of medications — primarily to treat burns — to Vladikavkaz, the town 20 miles from Beslan, which has a Jewish community that is affiliated with the federation.

Tatayna Kalaeva, head of a children’s hospital in Vladikavkaz and a member of the local Jewish community, is dealing with much of this aid.

Berkowitz said that in less than a week, thousands of postcards and small gifts from schoolchildren in the United States have been received by the federation’s U.S. office.

He said that some financial had already been received and will be directed to the victims in Beslan.

“The response we get is incredible,” Berkowitz said.

He said his group’s call resonated with a diverse group of people: a surgeon in New Zealand, an air controller in Houston, students of a Jewish school in San Diego and a priest in Akron, Ohio.

“Some of the gifts are small, but all very personal! ,” he said.

More information about the JDC’s efforts is available at www.jdc.org; for the federation’s efforts to help the children of Breslan, go to http://www.fjc.ru/

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