New York, September 9, 2023 — The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is partnering with the Jewish community of Morocco to respond to the historic earthquake near Marrakesh, which has caused widespread destruction and a soaring death toll. The organization, which has operated in the country since 1947, will provide immediate relief – likely including food, medicine, temporary shelter, and medical support, including evacuation – and has already deployed its disaster relief experts to Marrakesh to assess emerging needs and provide relief services. JDC’s Morocco country director will join the group’s representative in Casablanca to coordinate the Jewish community response and additional relief efforts in Marrakesh in the coming days. JDC has responded to various disasters in the region, most recently responding to the February 2023 earthquakes in Turkey. To support JDC’s efforts in Morocco, visit: JDC.org/MoroccoEarthquake2023
“As we mourn the harrowing loss of life and devastation in Morocco, we’re working quickly with the Moroccan Jewish community to provide assistance to those most impacted in Marrakesh and ensure their most basic needs are being met,” said Pablo Weinsteiner, JDC’s Chief Operating Officer. “As we in the Jewish community approach the High Holidays, weighing the uncertain balance between life and death, and the importance of aiding those most in need, we are on the ground in Morocco to preserve life, to comfort and support the most vulnerable, and to fulfill our commitment to repairing a broken world.”
JDC’s decades-long presence in Morocco includes its longstanding support and cooperation with the 1,500-person local Jewish community. The majority of Morocco’s Jews live in Casablanca and Marrakesh is home to approximately 120 Jews. Initial reports note that two Jewish families have suffered damage to their homes in Marrakesh.
JDC and the Moroccan Jewish community provide local Jews a full array of social services, Jewish education support, and medical aid, including the flagship Old Age Home in Casablanca. JDC and the Moroccan Jewish community have also responded to similar disaster and nonsectarian needs in the past, including healthcare projects for needy Moroccans in Marrakesh and throughout the country; the distribution of eye-glasses and wheelchairs to vulnerable groups; and earthquake response efforts dating back to 1960.
JDC’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. JDC relief activities are coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Israeli relief efforts, and the United Nations, as well as local and international partners.
JDC, which leads the Jewish community response to disaster and international development crises worldwide, has most recently responded to the 2023 earthquakes in Turkey, 2022 flooding in Pakistan, 2021 earthquake in Haiti, the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and Asia, as well as natural disasters in Mozambique, the Bahamas, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Mexico. JDC also leads the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR), made up of 49 mostly North American Jewish organizations who address disasters and development challenges worldwide.