Thursday, April 14, 2011

Japan Jewish Relief: A Guest Post Plea

I was recently contacted by an old friend of mine from the Yeshiva Collage Dramatics Society, Felissa Elfenbein, (how a woman became a member of a guys theater group is a story for a different time). Felissa is working with Japan Jewish Relief and asked if I could help spread the word so I agreed to allow her to do a guest post.  

Benzion asked me how I became involved with helping Japan Jewish Relief as its Social Media Coordinator and I knew that the response would be more in depth then he expected.

From March 2007 until March 2008, I Iived in Hong Kong. Arriving at the end of March Pesach was fast approaching and I was still living in Corporate Housing waiting all of my stuff to arrive via cargo ship. With a kitchen the size of a closet in the US I knew that I needed to find somewhere to go for Pesach and that is when I met the amazing Chabad Rabbi in Hong Kong Rabbi Avzton. I spent Pesach Sedar at his family's table in Hong Kong.

I had to leave but I will never forget Hong Kong and would love to move back someday. To sort of stay connected I remained a member of their email list receiving all of their updates. Most are happy updates telling of special Shabbas Meals, Holiday Events, or Baby Births and Bar Mitzvahs. But there have been two series of updates that really impacted me they weren't the usual Shabbas emails. Rabbi Avtzon is the head Rabbi in Asia and the Far East. The first series of email was about the attack in Mumbai and specifically on the Chabad House there asking Jews around the world to unite in prayer for the family.

The second Series of email newsletters was about the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. I was already aware of the situation and helping to raise money so that Veterinarians could go over and help treat the animals that had survived, I write a Pet Blog so it made sense to join and post under the the Paws for Japan Campaign. I received the first email update from Rabbi Avzton in regards to Japan Jewish Relief on March 14th the day that Roy Somech with the help of Chabad of Asia and Tokyo had commissioned a Bakery in Sendai to bake bread for all of those who had no other source of food. I received several more updates always wanting to do something wishing I could go over to Japan to help. But the reality just out of reach as I don't speak Japanese. I read them all and kept blogging about the human animal bond in Japan about the hardships they were going through and what the rest of the world could do to help. Then the update arrived that was sent out on March 31st which ended with "Please read this update to see how we are responding and how you can help"

Obviously they were asking for money or a connection to supplies in Japan that would be cheaper to source or a delivery company that would deliver the goods at a discounted price so that they could feed more people with the money they were receiving. I don't have money to offer and certainly not in the amounts needed to help feed entire cities but I do have a pretty good grasp on Social Media and how to gain support from people all over the world who otherwise would not know about an organization. So I wrote an email to Rabbi Avzton without a second thought about how I could help develop a Social Media presence for Japan Jewish Relief. I set up the Facebook page and some "likes" started to trickle in. I went back to Rabbi Avtzon with an idea and by the next morning everything was in place for our $10,000 for 10,000 friends campaign. All it takes is a click of your computer mouse to make a major impact to help feed an entire city for a day.

Would you like to help Japan? A donor has stepped forward and promised to donate up to $10,000 dollars to Japan Jewish Relief if we can reach 10,000 Facebook fans! All you need to do is click the link and become a fan and ask your friends to become fans as well

There is a lot of work that remains to be done in Japan and it will take years for the country to rebuild but there are people who are hungry and in need of hope now. We are able to be on the ground in Japan when so many other organizations are being asked to wait until they can be self sustained in the most damaged areas they are trying to help. Our team is very small and everyone on the ground lives in Japan some like Roy are from Sendai and saw what an impact Japan Jewish Relief was making and asked to help and others are from the cities we are helping. We aren't using their meager and scare resources we are bringing them food and hope because they know that someone cares and wants to help from their hearts.

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