Amidst the devastation of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado, Galit Cohen feels more freedom and pride in her heritage than ever.
The IsraAID volunteer does not wear any Hebrew symbols in her other world travels out of safety concerns. However, in Oklahoma, Cohen is boldly wearing a shirt with the Star of David.
“I think it is the first time that I walk bluntly with an Israeli shirt on me,” Cohen said.
It is also the first time for some Oklahomans that they have met a Jew, much less an Israeli Jew, she said.
“People are taking pictures of us in our Israeli t-shirts,” she added.
The team of IsraeliAID volunteers who made the 42-hour trip to Oklahoma have partnered with two Christian organizations to help those in need – Heritage Church of Arkansas and Church of the Harvest in Oklahoma City.
“We pray with our Christian partners. They start the praying with Avinu Shebashamyim in Hebrew. They will pray for our Israeli friends,” she said.
Despite her Master’s degree in Disaster Management and years of volunteer work with IsraAID, this is the first time Cohen has witnessed the destructive power of a tornado.
“There are no tornados in Israel. So, it is a new experience,” she said. “You can go to one block and there is nothing, just a pile of debris with no walls and a 100 meters from there is a Starbucks still working. I have never seen anything like it before.”
IsraAID is an international non-governmental aid agency based in Israel that offers humanitarian assistance and sustainable solutions to communities in need around the world.
The organization's mission is to support and empower the efforts of local communities affected by war, natural disaster, acute poverty and massive displacement to move from emergency situations to sustainable living.
Since its inception in 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises. These have included assistance to victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka, floods in Kenya, earthquakes in Peru and Haiti, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy in the United States, terror attack victims in India, communities devastated by cyclones in Myanmar and the Philippines, flooding in Pakistan, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and more.