BUSH FIRES TRAGEDY, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA, February 7, 2009.
Initial Jewish Community Response
There has been an incredible out pouring of concern and a desire to help by the Australian Jewish community.Apart from important individuals who immediately donated on their own behalf,we were very quickly able to establish a common appeal that was supported by a broad section of the community (Jewish Community Council of Victoria, UIA, Rabbinical Council of Victoria, Union for Progressive Judaism, Shira Hadasha, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia ( and Vic), Magen David Adom Australia, Mazon, Jewish Emergency Management Plan (JEMP), Jewish Care, ACT Jewish community, Am echad association of Soviet Jewry and jewishaustralia.com) who are all asking their members and friends through the 3 organisations nominated to collect.
In particular, my organization, NCJWA around Australia is collecting money and goods to aid those who have been devastated by the terrible bushfires which hit our State of Victoria. It was an unbelievable conflagration which hit some communities in a way that has never happened before. We have annual bushfires, but they are usually contained away from habitation and only twice in the last 70 years was there any loss of life,- but never of the magnitude of this time. Everyone, everywhere is collecting money, individuals are offering goods, services, accommodation for thousands of homeless, -it's like a war zone in some communities. (They are even talking about building underground shelters for every house in the future!)
Many places where we usually go for holidays from Melbourne, in the cool mountains, have been completely razed to the ground. One particular guest-house in Marysville which many Orthodox people take over with a Kosher caterer annually for Pesach, has disappeared together with most of the township. Our friends and many holiday-makers spent Christmas and New Year's eve holidays there,- imagine if the fires had broken out then.
Everyone around the world has shown great concern and we are all very heartened by the support offered. Of course our Governments, State and Federal have set up a lot of assistance and aid facilities for the victims . It will be difficult to rebuild those burnt-out communities because many look like blackened moon-scapes at the moment while before this,they were lush, green forested environments.
That may be all due to global warming and climate change, or whatever,- so they warn us that we can look forward to more of the same in future. In the North of Australia, in the meantime,- they have huge floods and rain deluges! That's Australia!We live on a big continent with all the varieties of the world's climates in one country.
The environmentalists however,- it seems now in retrospect that they have a lot to answer for, because the homes in the bush are not allowed to clear enough land to ensure sufficient fire-break space between them and the trees which provide the fuel for the fires, - particularly in times of drought as we are experiencing at present in Victoria. Greenery is fine, forests are lovely,- but the land here regenerates regularly through burning down and regrowth. It seems that too many city-slickers have embraced the country-lifestyle without the experience of the local country-folk and farmers. Bureaucrats and the politics of the "Greens" seem to have dictated Councils' building regulations and flora conservation based on their ideology and city lifestyle experiences, ignoring the locals' expertise and going against the real experts' warnings and advice.
We shall see what the future brings for all those poor people who have been displaced from their homes. However, unlike the millions of displaced persons around the world, they won't be allowed to suffer for long, I am sure.
(Certainly not for 60 or more years so that they fester and become mortal enemies of the State, as some ended up in the ME through their own Arab and Islamic brethrens' cruel and fanatical intransigence.)