By: Naomi Ohana (10th Grade)
With additional reporting by Robert Zohar (10th)
In response to the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, Hebrew Academy students have organized a relief drive to help the victims.
The program, started by juniors Yosef Fruhman and Alina Sterenfeld, is collecting canned food, water bottles, blankets, clothing, first aid kits, toothbrushes, and other basic necessities for survival. Boxes have been placed in the front of the building and throughout the school. Activities Director Rav Oded Karavani sent emails to the entire student body and community informing them of the school’s relief effort.
“People in Miami Beach bought all this stuff and didn’t end up using it, and there’s people who actually need it,” Fruhman said. “I feel empathy toward the people who are in very bad positions because of this hurricane and if we can help, why shouldn’t we?”
Fruhman and Sterenfeld teamed up with three major relief programs: Cadena, a Jewish organization that aids targets of natural disasters; Island Relief Group, a University of Miami student organization; and a Miami Beach government run organization to help those in need. These groups will collect the items gathered by Hebrew Academy and deliver them to the Bahamas.
“It is a super big crisis, and these people have given to us and opened their arms and Islands to us, and it’s our job to just give back,” said senior Yael Bister, who is also part of the initiative.
Hurricane Dorian slammed the northern part of the Bahamas this past Sunday as a category five hurricane. Dorian is the strongest storm to hit the Atlantic basin since 1935. The current death toll has spiked significantly, reaching a total of thirty people. Property loss is expected to reach as much as $7 billion. The original target of the hurricane was South Florida, but the hurricane shifted up north instead.
Many students said that because the damage was so close to affecting Miami, that it is crucial to help the Bahamian people during their time of need.
“I was watching the news and I saw the terrible destruction going on in the Bahamas and it was an instant reflex for me to want to help in some way,” said Sterenfeld. “I was so grateful that my family and friends were safe, but I had to think of people who weren’t so lucky, and so I knew that I wanted to help out.”
The drive was organized by the students, but could not have been possible without the help of Karavani, Fruhman said. Karavani connected Sterenfeld and Fruhman to Cadena. Collections will remain open as long as they are needed. So far the boxes have been partially filled, but Fruhman and Sterenfeld say much more is needed.
“As Jews we understand that our purpose in life is to light up the world,” Karavani said. “And sometimes it takes a little effort from our part to reach out.”