International support has poured in for Israeli firefighters, who for more than 35 hours have been battling the worst wildfire in Israel’s history. The Jewish
National Fund held a conference call on Friday, Dec. 3, with more than 600 rabbis, journalists, and members of the Israeli and U.S. forest services to call for help in fighting the fires and planning for the day after.
“We’ve been through these situations in the United States and know what Israel is going through, and stand ready to help however we can,” said Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service.
At least 60 percent of Israel’s firefighters are in the Carmel region, where more than 7,000 acres of the Carmel Forest are burning, said Shimon Romach, chief of Israel Fire and Rescue Services. More than 15,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, Romach said, but motivation remains high among the firefighters.
“That there is a KKL,” the Israeli branch of JNF, “and a JNF there gives people hope that they’re not alone,” said JNF chairman Ronald Lauder, who recently visited Israel.
Romach called on listeners to contribute and named specific supplies that the Israeli firefighters need, such as fire hoses, nozzles, and fire trucks. JNF is the U.S. fund-raising arm of Friends of Israel Firefighters, and in response to the request, it is launching a $10 million emergency campaign, said JNF president Stanley M. Chesley. Since the outbreak of the deadly fires, JNF has raised $500,000, which it is sending to the Jewish state, said JNF CEO Russell Robinson.
“It’s not only for today, it’s what going to be needed to build for tomorrow,” Robinson said.
While those speaking on the call focused on the current needs, they also told of the need to plan for the day after the fires are put out.
“It’s difficult in these times to think about what needs to be done next,” said Tidwell. “There will be a need for reforestation, there will be a need to do what can be done to stabilize the soils so lands can be reforested.”
For more information on contributing to Friends of Israel Firefighters, visit www.jnf.org.