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By Justin Cohen, News editor, Jewish News 

A community fundraising appeal to help the refugees fleeing persecution and conflict has been launched with the support of synagogue bodies across the religious spectrum.

World Jewish Relief’s crisis appeal will provide food, shelter and emergency materials to refugees in Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece where the need is greatest.

As well as those fleeing war-torn Syria, the appeal is expected to aid people from countries including Eritrea and Yemen amid the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

World Jewish Relief helped thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s including through its contribution to the kindertransport.

World Jewish Relief’s Chief Executive Paul Anticoni said: “We are proud to build on our incredible history and continue to lead our community’s response to international disasters with the endorsement of the entire community.

“Many Jews wouldn’t be here today without our ancestors finding shelter as refugees. Just as the Jewish community did not stand idly by in the 1930s, our community must once again come together to take action to support those fleeing violence, war and persecution.”

During a press conference with the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis expressed support for a communal response – involving financial and other support – to the crisis. “I’ve been speaking to leaders of charities and there’s been an outstanding response. While the politicians get on with their job, this is our problem,” he said.

Referring to the shocking image of the young boy who drowned while fleeing Syria this week, he added: “I heard his father say I hope his death will change the world. I think it will, it should, it’s up to us to respond positively.”

Responding to calls for action by Europe to take in more refugees, the Chief Rabbi said: “Tens of thousands of people are knocking on the door of Europe. Of course politicians need to look at the root cause of this but right now there is a humanitarian crisis and if we don’t act more people are going to die.”

“I very much welcome the spirit in which the prime minister is making his announcement. He readily acknowledges the crisis on our hands. He is striving to do what is right and appropriate for our country and for those who desperately need help. I believe it is very important to have a pan-Europe, a holistic response.”

– To donate, go to www.worldjewishrelief.org/refugees

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