a boy holds up a book called "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins"
A young member of Redding’s Temple Beth Israel enjoys a gift from Temple Beth Torah in Fremont

Beth Torah in Fremont helps Redding families hurt by fire

When the massive Carr Fire broke out near Redding this past summer, volunteers at Reform synagogue Temple Beth Torah in Fremont wanted to help out. But they weren’t sure how to reach their fellow Jews in Redding, more than 200 miles northeast of the Bay Area.

“There wasn’t a lot of information,” said Phyllis Wood, head of Beth Torah’s social action committee. “So I just looked up their phone number on the web.”

The fire began on July 23 and burned for several weeks, destroying more than 1,000 homes and scorching 230,000 acres in Shasta County. Four members of Temple Beth Israel in Redding lost their homes, so a few weeks ago a Fremont volunteer packed up four boxes of Judaica for the affected families, along with some much-needed cash. The act of charity mirrored the Jewish community’s effort last year when deadly fires burned thousands of acres in the North Bay, including torching Camp Newman in Santa Rosa.

“One of our members actually drove the boxes to Redding and handed them over personally,” said Beth Torah administrator Jill Ziman.

Packed inside were mezuzahs, menorahs, Shabbat candlesticks, jewelry, mugs and books. Wood said other organizations were filling in by covering basic needs, but that the synagogue saw there was a spiritual need to fill, as well.

“We wanted to give them something specific to the Jewish part of us,” Wood said