Hillel of San Diego’s Executive Director Rabbi Lisa Goldstein reports that, following a temporary evacuation, the entire staff is safe from the wildfires that have been burning out of control for five consecutive days. President Bush, today, declared Southern California a disaster site after touring the area. Fire officials report more than 1,600 homes have been consumed by the blazes and mass evacuations (some estimate as many as one million people) are continuing. It is estimated that 65 Jewish families have lost their homes as the fires raged through towns with large Jewish populations.
Both the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and San Diego State University (SDSU) are closed through the weekend. However, Hillel on both campuses remain active and UCSD will open its dining hall only for Shabbat services.
While the devastation is still unfolding, Hillel of San Diego is collecting supplies for the evacuees and organizing student volunteer opportunities over the next two days. Hillel is also working with local synagogues to adopt displaced families and students have volunteered to serve food, babysit, collect and distribute toiletries.
Donations are being accepted through the Hillel web site or through Hillel of San Diego, 5742 Montezuma Road, San Diego CA 92115. Additional funds have been set-up through Jewish Family Services and the Jewish Community Foundation and United Jewish Communities.