Following Friday’s devastating earthquake in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Jewish Federations, together with our partners, are responding. News reports indicate that nearly 2,500 people have been confirmed dead and that number continues to climb as rescue and retrieval efforts reach remote villages in the mountainous region. Thousands more were injured, many of them critically, and survivors are confronting the psychological trauma caused by the event. More than 25 aftershocks have already been reported, leading survivors to sleep on the streets and in open areas rather than return to potentially dangerous buildings.
We here in Greater New Haven are particularly struck by this tragedy as just seven short months ago we led a group of 20 community members from our Israel 2023 trip on an extension through Morocco. There we experienced the warmth and hospitality of the Jewish community in Marrakech, now struggling to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
Will you be there to support the Moroccan earthquake emergency relief efforts?
In times of unthinkable tragedy such as these, the ability to act quickly and effectively makes all the difference. Thanks to our Federation system, our partners are on the ground, quickly assessing the needs and supporting people in their darkest hours.
From food and critical supply distribution to urgent medical resources, your support will help us to reach and provide life-saving assistance to thousands of earthquake survivors from the Jewish community and beyond in the critical weeks ahead.
The Jewish community in Morocco has now received government permission to work with JDC and provide assistance to those affected. JDC’s immediate response will focus on three areas:
For more on JDC’s ongoing activities in the country, see yesterday’s update here.
The Jewish Agency has had a continuous and discrete presence in Morocco since before the creation of the State of Israel. With the signing of the Abraham Accords and warming relations with Israel, the Agency has taken a more open and active role in the country. Jewish Agency educators in Casablanca and local staff in Marrakech run varied educational activities, enhance Jewish identity, and connect Moroccan Jewish youth to their peers in Europe. The Global Security Fund is another vehicle by which the Jewish Agency works to strengthen this community.
The Jewish Agency is coordinating activities with the head of the Jewish community and has made clear to local leaders that it remains committed to the full recovery of the community. It is currently:
The Society for International Development-Israel (SID-Israel) and OLAM report that the following Jewish and Israeli relief organizations have also mobilized and sent teams to Morocco: IsraAID, NATAN, SmartAID, Cadena, and United Hatzalah. Additionally, Chabad, which has been active in Morocco since 1950, reports that their emissaries are assessing Jewish communal needs.
Morocco was home to a large historic Jewish population of more than 250,000 prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Nearly one million Israelis are of Moroccan descent. Today, the country's Jewish population numbers between 1,500-2,000, living mostly in major cities, including approximately 120 in Marrakech. The Jerusalem Post reported that two historic synagogues in the old city of Marrakech were damaged by the quake. Haaretz reported significant damage in the historic Jewish quarter or "Mellah" in Marrakech, a major tourist attraction in the city and still home to a small number of Jewish families.
Here are some additional updates:
This is the second time this year that a major earthquake has hit this region. In February, a massive earthquake struck Turkey and Syria. Jewish Federations raised $1.3 million with more than $1 million allocated to support JDC’s relief efforts in Turkey and other funds used for humanitarian assistance in Syria.
The tragedy in Morocco has caused many Israelis to consider earthquake preparedness at home. Every time a major earthquake hits the region, media outlets remind the public that reports, published by the State Comptroller in 2001, 2004, 2011 and 2023, and several academic studies have forecast catastrophic loss of life and property in the event of an earthquake in Israel. Despite some efforts, experts agree that Israel, which is located on a major fault line, is sorely underprepared for a similar disaster to what is taking place now in Morocco.