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American Jews Support Argentinean Jewry

Demonstrating support for Argentinean Jews suffering severe economic hardships caused by the collapse of the nation's economy, North American Jewish community leaders traveled to Buenos Aires to meet with members of the Argentinean Jewish community and Argentinean officials and witness first-hand the effects of the national turmoil.

The delegation of more than 160 North American leaders represent nearly 50 Jewish communities across the continent, as well as United Jewish Communities (UJC), the umbrella organization for North American Jewish communities.

"As World Jewry is focused on events in Israel, we cannot forget that the Argentinean Jewish community - one of the largest in the world - is suffering an economic siege that threatens its very existence and welfare," said Richard Bernstein, co-chairman of the UJC Argentina Task Force and treasurer of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. "Our presence in Argentina is a message to our fellow Jews here that they are not alone and that North American Jewry stands ready to help them through an immensely difficult and perilous time."

In February, the Jewish Federations of North America pledged $40 million through the end of 2002 to help 5,000 Argentinean Jews emigrate to Israel by the end of this year, and to ease the suffering of the Jewish community in Argentina. The UJC Board of Trustees, responding to the severe hardships thrust upon the Argentinean Jews and the immediate humanitarian and economic challenges they face, voted to commit the North American Jewish Federation system to raise the funds - to be distributed through the UJC's overseas partner agencies - the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and The Jewish Agency for Israel.

"As North American Jews, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel, Argentina, and wherever Jews may be," said Robert Goldberg, chairman of the UJC Executive Committee. "We want to do what we can to make their lives better, whether that means helping them to emigrate to Israel, or helping them to lead comfortable lives in Argentina, free from want, and with a strong community behind them"

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