Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami Relief

I received this letter from Chabad of Thailand via Naomi Ragen:

December 28, 2004
Dear Chaverim,
I write to you in the midst of the mounting humanitarian disaster affecting Southeast Asia.
As the only Jewish service agency in the country dealing with this catastrophe, our offices and staff in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui have put everything else aside, working 24/7 to assist those in need of comfort.
I therefore turn to my colleagues for urgent help in funding our humanitarian efforts during the crisis, Chabad of Thailand’s response to the crisis was immediate and is growing daily.
Rabbi Nehemya Wilhelm was dispatched to the scene of the tragedy in Phuket to aid in the rescue efforts where he is making the rounds of the hospitals, identifying bodies, arranging medical help and transportation for survivors, connecting survivors with each other, and helping the Israeli government in coping with this terrible ordeal.
Thailand’s three Chabad Houses, staffed by six full-time rabbis and twelve rabbinical trainees, were immediately converted into crisis centers where dazed survivors are
  • receiving medical help
  • receiving free meals
  • receiving funds for new clothing
  • placing free international phone calls (and same for internet use) to their loved ones to inform them of their whereabouts
  • being helped in their efforts to locate their friends as of yet unaccounted for
  • Chabad volunteers are standing by at the local hospitals to visit the injured and provide them with kosher food and any other help needed.
  • Chabad staff is providing counseling to the survivors who are in a state of emotional trauma.
  • Chabad staff has already fielded several thousand phone calls from Israel, trying to help families locate their relatives.
  • Chabad has been instrumental in notifying thousands of Israelis in Thailand who have not been affected by the quake to contact their families back home. Please note that the Israeli Consul in Thailand, Yakov Dvir, asked for our help in locating hundreds of Israelis who are stranded in the ravaged seaside towns of Thailand which we are doing to the best of our abilities. Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has acknowledged the help we are providing to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
As the initial efforts of search and rescue wind down over the next week, the grim work of identifying bodies and counseling bereaved families will unfortunately keep the Chabad staff fully occupied for the foreseeable future. We are also expecting the stream of survivors of this natural disaster appearing at our doors in Bangkok to increase, placing the burden on us to clothe, feed and accommodate them as they slowly try to make their way home.
The initial estimate of expenses incurred to our organization as a result of this tsunami already runs into tens of thousands of dollars for food, clothing, shelter, medical expenses and transportation to and from the disaster zones. It seems very possible that hospital expenses as well as transportation of bodies for burial may also become a significant expense as the situation unfolds.
Thanks in advance for your assistance in this most important mitzva.
To help us in our humanitarian mission of Ahavat Yisrael and tzedaka in the aftermath of the tsunami please send checks to Chabad of Thailand, 96 Thanon Rambuttri, Bangkok, Thailand 10200 (for US tax deductibility please write checks to American Friends of Chabad of Thailand), or donate online at or

UPDATE: Israaid is another Israeli organization that is helping the survivors.

Also, The Command Post has a large, comprehensive list of aid organizations.

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