According to their mission statement, the IFA has a three-pronged emergency assistance program that includes food, medical aid and counseling for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Providing supplies and assistance for every individual in need, the IFA transcends political differences, prejudices, race, nationality and creed and reaches out on behalf of the Jewish people in the spirit of peace, love, and compassion.
Thus far, over 40 people have perished in the New York area as a result of the historic devastation wrought by the "Frankenstorm", known as Hurricane Sandy. Thousands of homes were destroyed and millions were left without power in New York, New Jersey and southern Connecticut when monumental storm surges caused by Sandy slammed the northeast with 100 mph winds on October 29th.
Mr. Kahana declared, "As Israelis, we know how to react to such disasters. We are trained in the military to be prepared and ready at a moment's notice. This edge is what enables us to go places where others don't and get the job done with little or no bureaucracy. We are proud to help the New York, New Jersey and the Connecticut communities. These are people who have provided assistance to Israel throughout the years. What we critically need now is donations for our staff and volunteers to continue their life saving efforts as temperatures drop and people critically need generators and fuel for heat."
On Sunday, November 4th, the Chabad-Lubavitch Midtown Manhattan branch dispatched a bus load of young professionals to assist with relief efforts on Long Island. According to a report on Israel National News, the volunteers helped hurricane victims with cleaning sand and other waterlogged debris that was swept into their homes. As the mercury dips in the New York area, other Chabad teams were tasked with distributing such supplies as batteries, socks, warm kosher food and other essentials to the those in need and a third set of volunteers set up a mobile soup kitchen were people gathered for nutritional sustenance in the disaster zone,
Departing from their Crown Heights headquarters in Brooklyn on Sunday, another bus load of Chabad-Lubavitch volunteers headed off to such hard hit areas as Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to provide similar relief to their neighbors.
Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries were among the first to search for survivors and help provide food and other supplies for those who were hurt in Japan during the deadly earthquake-tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in March 2011. Some 15,000 people lost their lives in that disaster, and countless others were wounded, homeless and displaced for months.
During the Indian Ocean tsunami that struck southeast Asia in December 2004, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, Chabad-Lubavitch of Thailand worked tirelessly around the clock for days with Israel's Foreign Ministry to locate missing people, contact relatives and provide food and other relief to those in need.
A number of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries were also victims of Sandy's wrath; losing their homes and all of their possessions and it has been reported that tens of thousands of dollars' worth of holy books, furniture and supplies in Chabad centers throughout New York and New Jersey were lost due to the storm. Never ones to be deterred from performing acts of kindness and charity, despite the tragedy that they suffered, Chabad rabbis were out in force last week and on Sunday, going door-to-door in areas affected by the storm to provide food and water, as well as spiritual and emotional support.
In order to accomplish the goal of baking fresh challahs for Shabbos, Rabbi Mendy Kasowitz of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center of Essex County, New Jersey, donated his own generator to the local kosher bakery. "The community needs challahs,” Kasowitz said simply in an interview with Chabad.org just prior to the Sabbath. By midnight on Thursday evening, there were a few hundred loaves ready to be distributed, and Kasowitz had plans in place for volunteers to deliver them to home-bound seniors stuck in their darkened homes. Others were sent to community-wide Sabbath dinners where power had already been restored, thus ensuring that hundreds of Jews began Friday evening with at least some semblance of a "normal" Sabbath meal.