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UJA Tsunami Relief Fund reaches $1.2 million
Daniel Horowitz

The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Tsunami Relief Fund has reached $1.2 million, including $600,000 in cash donations and another $600,000 in the direct donation of medical supplies by a single donor.

One hundred per cent of the cash raised by UJA Federation will be sent to its overseas partner, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and associated disaster relief agencies.

The JDC continues to assess needs in various affected countries and has, so far, allocated funds to: 

  • The International Rescue Committee for ongoing delivery of relief supplies in the hard-hit Aceh province of Indonesia.]
  • The Disaster Mitigation Institute and Caritas/ Catholic Relief for delivery of food, clothing and temporary shelter materials in Chennai, India. JDC operates a field office in Mumbai, and will work with the local Jewish community to coordinate activities in the field.
  • The Chabad Lubavitch Organization to provide medical help, meals and clothing for injured survivors in Thailand. Chabad volunteers are working at hospitals, providing clothing and counseling services.

JDC is also looking at longer-term infrastructure rebuilding projects, such as schools, hospitals, orphanages or medical clinics.
“Despite our offices being closed for holidays as the Tsunami disaster developed, staff came in to get our hotline and website ready and we were in direct contact with the JDC to determine the best use of the funds,” said UJA Federation president Ted Sokolsky.

Olga Zelmanovich, one of the many UJA Federation staff members who gave up a day off to answer phones was moved by the community’s response.

“The number of calls and interest from people has been amazing,” said Zelmanovich. “A lot of people who called to donate – Jews and non-Jews alike – said they chose UJA because they knew the money would get to where it was needed. The phone just keeps ringing and ringing; but it’s a great sound to hear.”

“As a human being my heart goes out to all of those who lost loved ones, their homes, everything really,” said Michael Sue Goldblatt, one of the first donors to the UJA Tsunami Fund. “As a Jew, I thought it was important to give ‘Jewishly’, because others should know that Jews care about others. That’s why I donated through UJA.”

“When I saw this tragedy on television, I was moved to donate by two things,” said Ari Kaplan. “One, our general obligation as Jews to give to tzedeka, and two, a sensitivity, as a Jew, to those in despair suffering from disaster and tragedy.”

Donations to the UJA Federation fund can be made by visiting the UJA website at and by clicking the Tsunami icon, or by calling the UJA Tsunami Hotline at 416.631.5705. Cheques should be made out to the UJA Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund and mailed to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, 4600 Bathurst Street, M2R 3V2. Donations can also be made from across Canada and the United States by calling UJA Federation’s toll free number–1-888-635 CHAI (2424).