In the nearly two weeks since the North Bay fires killed dozens and destroyed 6,000 homes and businesses, the Jewish community has stepped up to the plate. Even while thick smoke blanketed the Bay Area, we rushed in to comfort victims, provide shelter for evacuees and the suddenly homeless, donate goods and prepare meals.
We should all feel proud of this all-hands-on-deck mobilization. We know our brothers and sisters in the North Bay would do the same for us.
J. played its part, too, sending reporters to the fire zone and constantly updating our website with the latest news about the fires and their impact.
URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa was lost in the first hours of the Tubbs fire. Though heartbreaking, the flames spared the Torah ark, the camp’s stash of tallitot and prayerbooks, and the large, iconic Star of David on the property, all symbolic promises of the beloved camp’s certain rebuilding.
At least 50 Jewish families in the North Bay lost their homes to the fire, according to the S.F. Federation, and many more were evacuated. Only now are some being allowed to return to their neighborhoods. Tragically, two in the Sonoma Jewish community perished in the fires.
Hagafen, the North Bay’s only kosher winery, suffered significant damage but was spared the fate of several other local winemakers who lost everything.
Once the last ember sputters and the skies clear, the entire North Bay will have to ponder its future. With a housing shortage already squeezing the region, the loss of so many homes will only exacerbate the problem. The destruction of businesses means many have lost their jobs.
The situation is overwhelming, and it’s hard to know where to begin. But one way we can help right now is by opening our checkbooks.
Those working in the recovery effort say they have plenty of donated goods and volunteers. What is most needed now is cash. So give generously to the various fundraising efforts organized to help victims, including our Federations’ North Bay Wildfire Emergency Fund.
And if you can, head up to the Napa and Sonoma area and spend your tourism dollars. Dine at that Santa Rosa restaurant you love, visit that Silverado Trail winery, stay at that Calistoga spa.
The incomparable beauty of the wine country remains after the inferno. The torched woodland will sprout anew, lost neighborhoods will be rebuilt and businesses will come back. But right now it’s vital that we show support with our dollars, donating them to relief funds and spending them to boost the region economically.
Let us raise a glass of Napa County’s best vintage and together say “L’chaim.” To life. The recovery starts now.