Portuguese Fire Victims Association launches a “survival backpack” in honour of a Jewish thinker

Portuguese Fire Victims Association launches a “survival backpack” in honour of a Jewish thinker

On 10 September, the Pedrógão Grande Fire Victims Association (AVIPG) will launch fire survival backpacks to pay tribute to the Jewish jurist, writer and thinker Aharon Halevi, also known as Andrew Smiler, who died in the October 2017 fires in Oliveira do Hospital.

The backpacks contain first aid, survival and personal hygiene kits. Their aim is to ensure villages are better prepared to cope with natural disasters such as fire, as they wait for the fire fighters to arrive.

The initiative started with a small donation from the Jewish Community of Oporto in memory of Andrew Smiler.

Dina Duarte, president of AVIPG, says: "Because AVIPG believes that it is key to provide villages with equipment to make them more resilient, it was decided to direct this donation to the purchase of emergency backpacks, to be used by these populations or whoever else needs them".

The Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto told PJN that it will continue to help this association “which produces so much with so little, showing a remarkable spirit of enterprise for doing good, a feeling of social responsibility and great impartiality. There will be plenty of survival backpacks”, declared a source of the organisation.

Halevi, who died in the Oliveira do Hospital fires, was honoured in February 2019 at Kadoorie Synagogue in Oporto, by chief rabbis from all continents. All alone in the region, with no support network and no car, the Jewish thinker died very close to his home. He had not had time to flee. Found close to his heart were the pet carriers containing his wild cats, which he had brought from Egypt (from where he was expelled for being Jewish) and who also tragically died.