In the wake of today’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian assistance organization, announced that it will collect funds for relief efforts, said JDC CEO Steven Schwager.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Chile and, as we have recently done in Haiti, JDC will leverage our strong partnerships in the region, including the local Chilean Jewish community, to provide a quick and effective response to the needs of those affected,” said Schwager. “We are receiving up-to-the-minute reports from JDC’s Latin America team on the ground, including the impact of the earthquake on Chile’s Jewish community.”

JDC provides technical assistance to many Latin American countries including Chile, and is conducting a full and rapid assessment of the situation by working closely with Chile’s Jewish community to determine critical next steps based on immediate needs of the hardest-hit areas.

Chile’s diverse Jewish community, made up of both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, is mainly located in Santiago, with Jewish families also living in affected cities like Concepcion and Valpariso-Vina. The community supports a JCC, two Jewish day schools, synagogues, and has reportedly canceled Purim festivities as a result of the disaster. JDC relief efforts are part of its International Development Program (IDP), which provides immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters.