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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Help on the way for victims of both sides

Money, medical supplies going to those in Israel, Lebanon

Thursday, August 17, 2006
By Mary Niederberger and Laura Pace, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As Israeli and Lebanese families return to their homes after Monday's United Nations-imposed cease-fire, South Hills ethnic and religious groups are trying to round up money and medical supplies to send to the war-torn areas.

Over the weekend, Our Lady of Victory Lebanese Maronite Church in Scott raised $20,000 to be sent to Lebanon to help meet the needs of people displaced by the recent fighting, said the Rev. Claude Franklin, a parochial vicar at the church.

That money, and any other donations the church collects for the effort, will be forwarded to the congregation's bishop in Brooklyn, N.Y., who will combine it with other church collections and forward it to the humanitarian organization Caritas Libon, which, Father Franklin said, is the Lebanese version of Catholic Charities.

He said the money would be used to help meet the basic human needs of people in the areas affected by the war, regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.

"It will go to whoever is in need, whether they are Christians, Jews or Muslims," Father Franklin said.

In addition, the church formed a partnership with Brother's Brother Foundation, an international humanitarian aid organization based on the North Side, to collect medical supplies to send to Lebanon.

Jewish organizations in the South Hills are focusing on raising money to send to national organizations that provide relief to Israelis. The groups said money was needed more than hard goods such as diapers or canned goods at this point.

The relationship between Brother's Brother and Our Lady of Victory came about after the foundation reached out to the church.

"We didn't have the idea originally to collect medical supplies. When they contacted us, we saw this as a blessing through the Holy Spirit. If anybody is trying to help Lebanon, we wanted to be part of it," Father Franklin said.

Brother's Brother recently sent a shipment of $400,000 worth of hypertension drugs and pediatric antibiotics to those in need in Lebanon. As of early this week, the shipment was sitting in Syria, Mr. Hingson said. Those supplies were collected with help from the Life For Relief and Development agency.

Our Lady of Victory hopes to be involved in the gathering of medical supplies for future shipments, Father Franklin said. He said parishioners who are doctors or work in other areas of the medical and pharmaceutical fields are trying to obtain donations of medical supplies for shipment.

To make a donation to the Lebanon fund of Our Lady of Victory Maronite Church, checks can be made out to the church, with a notation in the memo area that the money is for Lebanon. Checks can be mailed to the church at 1000 Lindsay Road, Carnegie PA 15106.

Donations can be made to Brother's Brother Foundation/Lebanon and mailed to the foundation at 1200 Galveston Ave., Pittsburgh 15233.

Other groups are taking donations as well. Beth El Congregation of the South Hills is referring those who would like to help Israel to donate to B'nai Zion in Squirrel Hill for its Israel emergency fund. The group is a charitable, nonpartisan foundation which, among other things, supports the B'nai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, a large city in northern Israel.

Its emergency fund goes to support the hospital, which treats all patients, regardless of their ethnicity, as well as soldiers and civilians.

Dr. Amnon Rofe, director general of the hospital, will give a free talk about the situation there, including answering questions, at the Jewish Community Center, Squirrel Hill, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12.

Haifa has become a ghost town, said Ellen Primis, regional director of B'nai Zion. For questions about B'nai Zion, call 412.421.6789 or e-mail questions to bnaizion@aol.com.

Temple Emanuel of the South Hills is having a coin harvest for Israel, with collection boxes around the synagogue, on Bower Hill Road, temple Executive Director Saralouise Reis said. The congregation will collect money at the Labor Day Picnic at 4 p.m. Sept. 4, when young members of the temple will be rolling the coins. Paper bills and checks also will be accepted.

The temple has not decided which of the Israeli relief funds that money will go to.

Ms. Reis said the synagogue is encouraging donations to the United Jewish Federation and the Union of Reform Judaism, known as URJ. Funds from both organizations will go to help move children out of northern Israel, pay for medical treatment and help support refugees.

For information about the URJ fund drive, see urj.org. Temple Emanuel's phone number is 412-279-7600 and its Web site is: www.templeemanuelpgh.org.

Chabad of the South Hills is funneling contributions to Colel Chabad-Emergency Relief, which is helping to feed Jews in northern Israel. During the summer, the fund helped send children from northern Israel to camps in safer southern areas, Rabbi Mendel Rosenblum said.

To donate to the fund or for questions, contact Chabad at 412-278-3693 or check out its Web site at www.chabadsh.com.

The United Jewish Federation in Pittsburgh, in Oakland, is accepting donations for its Israeli Emergency Fund, which is an overall campaign to help the country deal with all of its special expenses, UJF representative David Shtulman said.

Examples of bills it is helping to cover include getting kids out of northern Israel and sending them to safer summer camps in the south of the country; TVs, DVDs, air conditioners, VCRs for the kids who are confined to bomb shelters; meals for the elderly who are in shelters; hospital needs and help for new immigrants into the country, he said.

For questions, call UJF's campaign department at 412-992-5213 or go to the Web site at www.ujfpittsburgh.org.

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