Jews everywhere were horrified to learn of the arson terrorism and wildfires in Israel, which began the week of November 20th, 2016. Tens of thousands of Israelis were displaced, often fleeing their homes in the middle of the night. Thousands of Israelis lost their homes and all of their possessions. When Frank Storch of Baltimore, a community activist and noted security expert, heard what was happening, in his usual style, he took immediate action. He said, “I called Rabbi Marwick of Shomrei Emunah and Rabbi Silber of Suburban Orthodox. They were more than happy to get involved and quickly agreed to distribute tzedaka to the victims, and overnight, Mrs. Elaine Gerstenfeld, selflessly created an informative flyer for us to begin distributing right away.”
The Chesed Fund Limited & Project Ezra of Greater Baltimore, Inc., the two safety and security non-profit organizations that Mr. Storch directs, began a fundraising campaign throughout the community to help those suffering from the fire’s devastating effects. The local schools distributed flyers to students; emails were sent to the entire community; and the message got out on social media as well.
The Baltimore community is well known for the care it extends to other communities, whether it’s by sending up trucks of emergency equipment to New York after Hurricane Sandy, or arranging a free carnival for Bayswater’s children to bring them some joy through those trying times. In November 2015, Sarah Litman and Ariel Beigel were married two weeks after Sarah’s father and brother were killed by terrorists in Israel. Thousands of Baltimore’s community members and students signed Mazel Tov banners expressing their good wishes. The banners were then presented to the new couple during their wedding, together with the unwavering support shown by Jews who traveled from across the globe to share in their simcha. “When Jews are going through difficult times, especially in Israel, it is important to for us to step in immediately, help in any way we can, and most importantly, show we care,” said Mr. Storch.