Jewish Disaster Relief Organizations Weigh in at UN World Humanitarian Summit

"As people of faith, we must serve as a bridge between worlds and cultures to help those in distress"

Jewish volunteers with refugees in Greece. Photo credit: Minos Alchanati, World Jewish Relief

Jewish volunteers with refugees in Greece. Photo credit: Minos Alchanati, World Jewish Relief

(Thursday, May 19, 2016) – Several high-level Jewish and Israeli humanitarian aid and disaster relief organizations will be presenting at the first-ever United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, which is being held in Istanbul.

OLAM, an organization promoting global Jewish service and international development, made up of 44 partner organizations, will highlight the work of its partners working to reduce suffering and build resilience for the world’s most vulnerable populations, irrespective of religion, nation, or creed.

OLAM will be distributing a booklet to summit participants featuring the work of 14 of its partner Jewish and Israeli non-profit organizations active in humanitarian aid, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Jewish World Service, MASHAV, which is Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation and CADENA, a Jewish-Mexican NGO for humanitarian relief, which has won the National Civil Protection Prize in Mexico.

President of CADENA Benjamin Laniado will address the summit, which originated as a call to action by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and will be attended by heads of state or governments, global leaders from government, business, aid organizations, civil society, affected communities and youth, among others. Laniado, a long-time advocate of involving a Jewish voice in the UN conversation about disaster relief, believes strongly in the importance of working on issues involving humanitarian relief as a Jewish value.

“As Jews we have a strong social precept to help communities in distress through the mandate of Tikkun Olam, which means healing the world,” says Laniado. “As people of faith, we must serve as a bridge between worlds and cultures to help those less fortunate than us, especially those in distress, and it is especially important that our different traditions be used to unite rather than divide.”

“This summit, with its broad representation, has the ability to unite all those from different nations and backgrounds towards a common goal, and the Jewish People are ready and extremely willing to play an important role.”

OLAM’s booklet, produced in partnership with the Society for International Development-Israel, highlights the contribution of Jewish and Israeli organizations active in humanitarian aid.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to present Jewish relief organizations to the wider humanitarian world at such an important summit,” said Dyonna Ginsburg, Executive Director of OLAM. “We hope the presence of our partners will serve two goals at the summit. One is to highlight Jewish and Israeli contributions in the fields of humanitarian and disaster relief, and the second is to demonstrate to Jews around the world that a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles is an essential part of our faith, history and tradition.”

“I am delighted that there are significant Jewish voices playing a role in the United Nation’s vision of how to effectively respond to major humanitarian challenges, and how to be better prepared to meet the challenges of the future.”

Want to learn more? Check out our digest of Jewish and Israeli organizations active in disaster relief, or visit our Take Action page to get involved.