This morning, the island nation of Japan was hit by a series of severe earthquakes — including its largest in over 100 years (8.9 magnitude) — which was subsequently followed by a devastating tsunami that has wreaked untold havoc upon Japan’s coastal cities. While the full scale of the destruction is still uknown, over a thousand people have already been pronounced dead, hundreds more are missing, and thousands are now left without homes, schools and jobs. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy and their loved ones.

While, with any disaster, it is far too early to assess what opportunities may exist for both skilled and unskilled volunteers to assist in recovery efforts, one can take immediate action by giving charitably to organizations that are providing assistance to agencies on the ground in Japan.

Our partners at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee are now “conducting an up-to-the-minute assessment of the situation in Japan and the Pacific Rim and [JDC] has activated its network of partners to determine critical, immediate needs of the hardest-hit areas.” You can give to JDC’s relief efforts online by clicking here.

The Jewish Community of Japan is joined by JDC in directing funds to JEN, a Japanese disaster response organization. You can donate to JEN via CAFAmerica by clicking here.

Likewise, the Jewish Federations of North America have opened an emergency relief fund to which you can donate online as well.

You can also give to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999.

To learn more about the Jewish community’s disaster response efforts in Japan and the Pacific Rim, click here.

We will do our best to keep readers informed about ways they can assist in the coming days and weeks ahead.

One way to get involved right now: If you have tech skills, Crisis Commons is seeking volunteers to monitor the situation in the Pacific Rim, gather data and identify needs stipulated by local agencies and humanitarian aid organizations that can be addressed through collaborative online software development.