Originally published by Masorti Olami
Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have been devastated by the fires in Australia, especially those who have lost family members. We must also express our deepest gratitude to the fire fighters who are still putting their own lives at risk to save lives, wildlife and property.
It is very difficult to know how to help during these difficult times, but we would like to urge you to provide support in any way you can. Below you’ll find a list of a few places where you can help directly by donating.
Please also join us in reading the prayer at the end of this post, which was put out by Masorti Israel and the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel during the 2016 Carmel fires in the North of Israel.
We share with you below some of the responses we’ve received from our Masorti Communities and representatives in Australia:
Eric Lundberg, President of MERCAZ-Masorti Australasia Inc., says that “In Sydney and Melbourne the major impact has been the unprecedented smoke. So far the fires have not directly hit most urban/suburban areas. But it can still happen. Sydney has had congregants who have suffered loss of houses especially some retirees in regional Centres. The scale of the damage is unprecedented and quite staggering - even in our terms. This is no ordinary bushfire season. The loss of houses in a bit over one month is 4 times the usual for a whole summer. The Australian community is rallying around and the generosity of spirit has been remarkable. Quite beautiful at times.”
John Furstenberg from Kehillat Nitzan in Melbourne shares with us that “The devastation to the country rural areas is devastating, luckily loss of life has been minimal. I pray that it does not get worse as this is really only the start of the summer and we have areas surrounding Melbourne within 20 to 50 miles which have burnt in the past and it may happen again in next two months. Our summer can run till March. Your thoughts and prayers are really appreciated. We are safe and well and if any message I would like to impart is that Australia is still safe to visit and not to change travel plans.”
Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth from Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney explains that “The scale of devastation is unprecedented, and we don't even know how bad it is yet in terms of animals killed (latest estimates puts the loss over 1 billion animals, pushing some to the brink of extinction). It’s hard to grasp the size of the areas burned or the expanse of where the fires are actually burning. It’s not just here in and around Sydney, but actually all across Australia. The smoke has caused many problems with air quality, and some vulnerable people are having respiratory problems. The heroic efforts of our volunteer firefighters is nothing short of legendary. The sacrifices they are making in defence of their homes and the homes of strangers really does bring hope to our communities. Our summer camps have had to move to safer locations, both in Victoria and here in New South Wales. The weather has changed in the past week, bringing some cooler temperatures and a little of much needed rain, however this is only the beginning of the fire season (normally it does not begin until about now, not during October), we are in for a few more months of this. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers.”
Rabbi Yonatan Sadoff from Kehilat Nitzan in Melbourne expresses his appreciation for our concern. “The damage to the environment here and to our wildlife is truly devastating. The air on days like today is very polluted as well. We are advised to stay indoors.”
Places to donate:
- The Jewish Board of Deputies fundraiser
- The Australian Red Cross
- The Rural Fire Service
- WIRES (in support of the animals)
Prayer to recite during the fires:
Published by Masorti Israel and the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel during the 2016 Carmel fires in the North of Israel. Also available to download in Hebrew here.
“Our God in heaven,
In whose hands rest the souls of all living beings
And the spirit of all flesh,
God who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.
Turn to us now for we are in great distress
The fire laps at our windows and smoke fills our homes and yards.
Hear our prayer and send blessing and peace on us.
May the clouds return to our Land and may the raging flames subside.
Reach out Your bountiful hand to our brothers and sisters
who have been uprooted from their fire-bound homes,
Return them speedily to their houses and families
And may they and we be worthy to make true the verse -
“Each one shall sit under their own vine and fig tree”.
Grant dew and rain as a blessing on all the land,
Quench the earth and may the entire world be satisfied with your bounty.
Fill our hands with Your blessings and with your abundant gifts,
Save and guard this year from all evil
And from any type of disaster and trouble,
And let it be a year of good hope and a peaceful ending.
May this be Your will, and let us say – Amen!”
וחְמֲתַ האָשֵׁ תִּשְׁכךָּ
אשֲׁרֶ בְיּדְָך נפֶשֶׁ כלָּ חיַ
ורְוחּ כלָּ בְּשׂרַ אִי ש,
מַשִּׁיב הָרוחַּ ומּורִיד הַגשֶֶּם.
פְּנֵה נָא אֵלֵינוּ כִּי בְּצָרָה גְּדוֹלָה אֲנַחְנוּ ,
כִּי אֵשׁ עָלְתָה בְּחַלּוֹנֵנוּ וְעָשָׁן בְּבָתֵּינוּ וּבְחַצְרוֹתֵינוּ .
שְׁמעַ-נָא תְּפִלָּתֵנוּ וְהָבֵא עֲלֵינוּ בְּרָכָה וְשָׁלוֹם,
וְשָׁבוּ הֶעָבִים עַל הָאָרֶץ וְחֲמַת הָאֵשׁ תִּשְׁכָּךְ .
שְׁלחַ-נָא אֶת יָדְךָ הַטּוֹבָה לְאַחֵינוּ שֶׁנֶּעֱקְרוּ מִבָּתֵּיהֶם שֶׁהָיוּ
לְמַאֲכֹלֶת אֵשׁ וְהַחֲזִירֵם מְהֵרָה לְחֵיק בֵּיתָם וּלְמִשְׁפְּחוֹתֵיהֶם.
וִיקוּיַם בָּהֶם וּבָנוּ מִקְרָא שֶׁכָּתוּב
"וְיָשְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחַת גַּפְנוֹ וְתַחַת תְּאֵנָת ו",
וְתֵן טַל וּמָטָר לִבְרָכָה עַל כָּל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה.
ורְַוהֵּ פְּניֵ תֵבלֵ ושְׂבַּעַ אֶת העָולֹםָ כלֻּּו מִטּובּךָ ,ְ
וּמַלֵּא יָדֵינוּ מִבִּרְכוֹתֶיךָ וּמֵעשֶׁר מַתְּנוֹת יָדֶיךָ .
שָׁמְרָה וְהַצִּילָה שָׁנָה זוֹ מִכָּל דָּבָר רָע,
ומִּכלָּ מִיניֵ משַחְׁיִת ומִּכלָּ מִיניֵ פוּרְּענָותּ,
וַעֲשֵׂה לָהּ תִּקְוָה טוֹבָה וְאַחֲרִית שָׁלוֹם.
וְכֵן יְהִי רָצוֹן, ונְאֹמרַ אָמןֵ.