Tikkun Olam: Disaster Information

 This page will provide information on local and national disasters. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact tikkunolam@templeshalomdallas.org.

California Wildfires

The recent California wildfires have reportedly claimed at least 50 lives, 48 of them in the massive blaze known as the Camp Fire – the deadliest and most destructive fire in the state’s history. The Union for Reform Judaism has been and continues to be in touch with Reform congregations in affected areas, and they stand ready to provide whatever support they can.

At this time, the URJ reports that Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, CA, has been affected by the fires, as has Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. Rabbi Paul Kipnes, spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami, writes,

With the sage advice from colleagues who went through the Santa Rosa fires, Houston floods and Parkland shootings, we are organizing and supporting our communities.

As for how to help, we have realized we cannot be distributors of things, as there are others that can do that better, and unless done right, one ends up with an overload of too much stuff. we’ve discovered that we can help people best as follows…”

Want to help? Here are the best ways to support these affected communities:

1. Support Congregation Or Ami directly.

Congregation Or Ami’s Fire Response Fund, which is already helping those worst hit by the fires. Visit orami.org/donate.

2. Send gift cards to those in need.

The congregations will distribute donations to those with the greatest need.

Congregation Or Ami has requested gift cards to Target, Home Depot, Ralph’s Grocery, and Trader Joe’s. They can be sent to:

Congregation Or Ami
20058 Ventura Blvd. #304
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Temple Adat Elohim has requested gift cards to Target, Walmart, Vons, Ralph’s Grocery, Whole Foods, Shell, Chevron, and ArcoUnion. They can be sent to:

Temple Adat Elohim
2420 E. Hillcrest Dr.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

3. Donate to the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

The Jewish Federations of North America has created a directed fund to support individuals and institutions impacted by the fires. One hundred percent of the donations will go directly to those who need it. To donate, visit www.jewishla.org/LAfires.

Our prayers go out to all those who have been impacted by these devastating fires.


Information to help assist the victims and cope with the devastation wrought by the massacre of 11 Jews at Tree of Life Synagogue as they worshiped Shabbat morning, October 27, 2018. 


Hurricane Disaster Relief

Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief:

The Jewish Federations of North America has launched a donations page to assist in the relief and recovery effort for communities impacted by Hurricane Florence. Many of the same points about our experiences with Hurricane Harvey and Irma remain true – including the one that donations of funds, aggregate, small amounts, even, get the exact, needed supplies and help where they need to go. Click here for the Jewish Federation of North America 2018 Hurricane Relief Information and to donate.

VOAD provides coordination, guidance and response during times of disaster, and Nechama is a Jewish Response to disaster recovery:

VOAD: https://www.facebook.com/445077945050/posts/10160974331030051/


National VOAD has launched donation and volunteer forms on our website. Please visit https://www.nvoad.org/howtohelp/current-responses/ for more information on how you can help those affected by #HurricaneFlorence and other storm systems around the country. #VOADMovement #ResponseReliefRecovery


Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief:

For those families impacted by hurricanes in Texas, below you will find a step by step process toward recovery. This list can be used to help develop projects as a council or community and to target and guide development of future projects to help those in need. This processes below would be different depending on family location, and relocation area of loved ones, but the steps necessary to healing are similar for all. The following excerpt was taken from the Houston area Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism: http://hcrj.org/category/all-rabbis-messages/



Important Information on Flood Insurance Claims

August 28, 2017 by Justin Deutsch

Thank you to our friends at Jewish Family Service for sharing this guide.

How is this flood different from all others floods?

A Guide from Jewish Family Service

During all the other floods, the water receded quickly.

With this flood, the water lingered, and there could be more to come.

During all the other floods, only a few neighborhoods flooded.

With this flood, a good part of the city is impacted.

During all the other floods, we didn’t know what to expect.

With this flood, we know, based on recent experience, that recovery will take time.

But we have confidence that our community is resilient.

We have noticed that with this flood, the preparation learned from previous experiences has allowed a greater since of calm and resolve.  The staff of JFS Houston is prepared to assist the community with resources and information.

Here are three steps to take:

1) Call 3-1-1 in order to register your home has flooded. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE PROCESS, and can affect eligibility for some assistance.

Let your insurance company know in writing that you have a claim. Get a response in writing that they have received your notice. THERE ARE CHANGES TO THE LAW STARTING SEPTEMBER 1 SO TAKE CARE OF THIS RIGHT AWAY.

Reassure yourself, your children and seniors that this difficulty will pass and everything will be all right. Contact JFS for direction and support. Take account of resources and support available as well as next steps.

2) When the waters recede:

Determine where you and your family will be able to stay during the next period of time. Can you stay on your 2nd floor? Do you have a neighbor or family member who can house you for a short period while you “regroup”?

Once all physical needs of your family are taken care of, photograph all the flooded areas of your house and flooded possessions before you begin the clean-up process. Account for important items and things that can be boxed up. Beware of people offering services that seem “too good to be true”. Any official volunteer group (such as All Hands, Nechama, UMCOR, Texas Baptist Men, Church of Latter-Day Saints) that is here to help, will have identification.

There is likely to be resources for assistance in “mucking out” flooded homes (removing carpet and sodden furniture and items.) Things that you should consider saving are photographs which cannot be replaced as they can be dried out and reproduced in some instances. Getting the carpet pulled out of the house is a priority.

3) Know your resources:

There will be cleaning and packing supplies available at the ERJCC as well as through the American Red Cross. JFS will have funds available for shopping for basic clothing and food should you need them. Often neighborhood groups will be organizing meals, assistance and spiritual succor at area places of faith. Contact a Disaster Case Manager at JFS as soon as conditions allow, who will be available to assist.

You will need to register with FEMA; report your flood to the city you live in (3-1-1 for Houston); call your insurance company and be sure to check the JFS website, www.jfshouston.org for these instructions and others. Keep a notebook with all the information you will need.

4) Understand the phases of recovery:

Relief: The initial phase after the water recedes. You will need to secure food, clothing, shelter. Your best resources will be organizations trained to supply relief, such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Clean Up: Organizing resources to clean up the sodden items in your house. Email mzeringue@jfshouston.org, who can send you a resource guide.

Organization: Learn the processes of FEMA, flood insurance and city resources. There will no doubt be community gatherings and distribution of information.

Recovery: The weeks and months ahead will allow you to stabilize your situation, return to your typical schedule of school, work and social activities as the process of recovering continues. Your mental health and the mental health of your family survivors is as important to address as are the logistics of rebuilding. JFS encourages you to seek assistance in both areas by seeking counseling or joining a survivors group and identifying yourself as a family or individual needing case management to assist you with the long-term journey ahead of you. In addition, there will be online Facebook groups that can provide a sense of community and be a source of information.

Recovery takes time and reveals along the way the physical challenges of rebuilding and recovering. JFS will be there for you for the long term, in conjunction with our partners United Way, The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.

As in the past, it will take many resources to help those who have flooded.

Here is how you can help:

  1. If you are able, please donate to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Getting financial resources will be the greatest help: Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
  2. Purchase gift cards to grocery stores or large retailers like Target, Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Lowes etc. Supply them to JFS, 4131 S. Braeswood Blvd, Houston, Tx 77025. If you want a donation receipt, include a list of the cards donated and their amounts, your name, address and email.
  3. If you know of a person who is living in a flooded home in unsafe conditions, encourage them to seek assistance or report that information to 311 and encourage that person to seek safe shelter.

We are here for anyone in SW Houston or the Jewish Community after a disaster, be it fire, flood, hurricane or tornado. Please call our main line: 713-667-9336 and ask for a Disaster Case Manager. JFS can provide:

  • Emergency Funding Assistance
  • Volunteers to help go through your home with you to sort what will be kept and what should be trashed.
  • Volunteers to help you pack
  • Contact info for non-profit agencies that may be able to help (muck & gut following water damage; cut down damaged trees; tarp roofs; kosher meals; clothing…)
  • Emotional support
  • Case Management to help you to recovery and rebuild

If you are outside of our area, we can connect you with other agencies that provide case management in your area.”

We are mindful and want to encourage awareness that the Houston Jewish Community has been devastated by this event. Congregations and Jewish institutions are assessing damage, doing abatement as well as offering support to the general community.



As the Houston area slowly, but surely, recovers from the impact of Hurricane Harvey, we ask you to consider a powerful option that will aid in recovery: Please consider a long-term donation to one, or more, of the following organizations (see the list below). Go to an organization’s donation pages and consider making a gift that recurrs monthly, in any amount that is meaningful for you and your family. These ongoing donations will represent the love and care of our Temple Shalom family for the long-haul, as our friends and family members make their way back from this devastation, with all our help. Thank you.

Hurricane Irma has impacted the Florida coast, electric-grid infrastructure and devastated communities. Resources to help are below.

How are ways to help the Houston Jewish Community

Jewish Family Service of Houston

Jewish Federation of Greater Houston:

Jewish Federation disburses $145K to Houston rabbis for immediate relief after Harvey In order to provide immediate and tangible relief for the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is pleased to announce that it has disbursed a total of $145,000 in discretionary funding to congregational and outreach rabbis across the community. With the help of grants from the Jewish Federations of North America, 29 Houston rabbis have each received a $5,000 check from the Houston Federation to use toward addressing the most urgent needs in their communities following the widespread flooding caused by the storm. “While we are still assessing the full and precise extent of the damage, we already know that Hurricane Harvey struck an unprecedented blow to Houston’s Jewish families and institutions, many of whom already suffered major floods in May 2015 and April 2016,” said Lee Wunsch, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. “Given our goal to facilitate the rebuilding of this community as quickly as possible, we acknowledge that local rabbis have the deepest understanding of immediate needs on the ground and are the leaders who are best suited to put these funds to good use.” To contribute to the communal rebuilding effort, please visit www.houstonjewish.org/HurricaneHarveyReliefFund


Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) Relief campaign:

Individual synagogues in the Houston area have set up relief funds. This is only a partial listing.

“Disasters give rise to what I call situational poverty. A family that was once secure finds themselves with nothing but the clothes on their back. The organizations that will help that family get back on their feet – the food banks, the diaper banks, the shelters – are already in the community helping people who live in persistent poverty. Their ability to respond depends on how well their community supports them in ordinary times.”

– Joanne Goldblum, CEO National Diaper Bank Network


Mayor Sylvester Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett have established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax-deductible flood relief donations for victims affected by hurricane and floods. The fund will be housed at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/

Impacted Families & Children:

The Dallas Women’s Foundation established a dedicated fund for families, for help in addressing their needs: https://www.dallaswomensfdn.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=701

The Living Hope Wheelchair Association serves those paraplegic and others with spinal cord injuries, many without medical insurance or access to care or durable medical equipment: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a57277/undocumented-immigrant-hurricane-harvey/

Babies cannot limit the number of diapers they use, nor can families carry or necessarily afford enough diapers while fleeing a disaster, which is why shelters must have them ready in times of need. http://keranews.org/post/evacuees-babies-diapers-make-difference. Diapers are rarely covered by public assistance programs. Many parents will be struggling in the days ahead to make ends meet, as they rebuild their lives. The National Diaper Bank serves parents with this vital need. http://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/hurricane-relief/

Volunteer Opportunities:

All Hands Volunteers

All Hands Volunteers began in the wake of the Tsunami of 2004, grew in resposne to Hurricane Katrina and is now a volunteer organization based in Massachusetts and the U.K., deploying volunteers to help with relief, recovery and rebuilding


NECHAMA is a voluntary organization that provides natural disaster preparedness, response, and recovery services nationwide. You may make a donation or volunteer.

*Volunteer opportunities will be announced and coordinated with local groups such as Jewish Family Service, or other organizations with volunteer needs. 



The volunteer response for Irma is being coordinated closer to Florida, and is not being staged from the Dallas area.

Donations can be made to the Miami Foundation, which funds basic needs and community projects throughout Miami. The foundation has set up a designated Hurricane Relief fund and focuses on relief, as well as marginalized communities impacted by the hurricane. There is a fund specific to the Carribean as well.

The Miami Foundation also has a page dedicated to the needs of the nonprofit – human needs community which will provide critical supports to vulnerable individuals and programs post hurricane: http://miamifoundation.org/irmarelief/

The Jewish Federations of North America has a dedicated relief fund for all areas affected by recent hurricanes.

Palm Beach County, and Greater Miami, have established similar funds, and the associated links contain updates and volunteer information.

The Governor of New York and New York State established an Empire State Relief Fund for Puerto Rico. Additional information and resources for aid and donations can be found there:

The Hispanic Federation established a relief fund for both Puerto Rico and Mexico in response to Hurricane Maria’s impact and the earthquakes in Mexico.
Hispanic Federation: UNIDOS

Gun Victim Relief

To support the victims of the gun violence at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs massacre, click here for information on participating agencies.

To support the victims of gun violence at the Route 91 Concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, click here for information on participating agencies and the go fund page.

Fire Victim Relief

For those impacted by the fires in Northern California–Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties–here are links to reach out and help:
#NewmanStrong URJ Camp Newman: https://campnewman.org/support-newman/newmanstrong/
Redwood Empire Food Bank: http://refb.org/

Redwood Credit Union: North Bay Relief: http://www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief
For pets and their owners affected in the Northern California counties: https://www.marinhumane.org/get-help/north-bay-fires/