When Disaster Strikes: Federations Send Aid and Mourn the Tragedies in Israel and Japan

There are times when major events loom on the horizon and we can see trouble from afar. And then there are those times when disaster strikes suddenly, causing shock, fear and sadness around the world. Unfortunately, the past few days have seen such sudden tragedies; in Japan, in Israel and across the world.

The population in Israel is, very sadly, used to tragedy. Unfortunately, difficult and trying events seem to occur with depressing frequency. Whether it is war, acts of terror or even natural disasters, the entire country feels pain collectively.

And despite the regularity of terrible events, occasionally an event takes place that manages to shock society anew. The details of the Fogel family murders in Israel are by now well known, but have shaken the country to its very core.

On March 11, between 10:20 and 10:30PM unknown assailants, presumed to be Palestinians from a nearby village, entered the Fogel family's home in the settlement of Itamar through the living room window. They did not notice 8-year-old Ro'i sleeping on the couch and continued on to the master bedroom where they murdered the family's father, 37-year old Udi and his four month old baby Hadas, who was sleeping in her parents' bed. The mother, 35-year old Ruthy, came out of the bathroom and was also killed. The assailants then murdered the family's 11-year old-son Yoav who was reading in his bed in an adjacent room. The terrorists also missed 2-year old Yishai asleep in his bed, but brutally killed the family's 3-year old son Elad. After that, they locked the front door, exited through the window and escaped.

The family's daughter, Tamar aged 12, found her murdered family after she returned home from a local Bnei Akiva youth group activity an hour later. According to a neighbor, Tamar went into one of the rooms, and saw the horror. She then saw that her two-year-old brother who had survived, was lying next to his now deceased parents, shaking them with his hands and trying to get them to wake them up, while crying.

The shock and dismay currently being felt nation-wide is a result of the particularly brutal nature of the attacks, the tragic age of the victims and the fact that this event occurred following a recent relative lull in such incidents.

All television stations broadcast live the heart-breaking funeral-for-five, while crossing live to Japan for updates on a different disaster, on the other side of the globe.

While Israel itself is a global Jewish mosaic with many internal differences -- the country bonds deeply, and mourns collectively, when tragedy strikes. Of course this phenomenon is often reflected far wider, among the entire Jewish world. We at Jewish Federations know very well the concept of "kol Yisrael areivim" -- that the entire Jewish people share a responsibility for one another. And we have shown, repeatedly, that when there is pain in Israel, we rise to the challenge and assist our fellow Jews in whatever way we can.

The Jewish Federations-supported Fund for the Victims of Terror will be offering assistance. We have worked through the Fund, which is administered by the Jewish Agency for Israel, for over a decade providing solace to those who have suffered the worst of tragedies.

Similarly, Jewish Federations are working through our global partners to offer relief and assistance to the victims of the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Jewish Federations responded rapidly to help, just as our movement answered the call after other disasters, such as the southeast Asia tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Aross North America, we mourn together and share the pain of the entire Jewish people, thinking and caring about the people of Japan while sending our prayers, our love and our embrace of the three remaining children and the extended Fogel family.

Here's hoping for happier news and brighter days.