Hurricane Sandy and Its Aftermath
Though Hurricane Sandy ended almost a month ago, it has left a trail of devastation along much of the East Coast.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those suffering continued hardship in the wake of this disaster, and our hearts go out to those who’ve lost loved ones.
As individuals and communities start to rebuild, people across North America are asking what they can do to help.
We at United Synagogue have been reaching out to our kehillot to assess the extent of the damage, both to synagogue buildings and the communities they serve, and we will continue to do so over the coming days and weeks. We have been coordinating this effort with our colleagues at the Rabbinical Assembly. If you are in the storm zone, please contact your Kehilla Relationship Manager. Let them know how you are doing. Contacts for all districts are here. You can also check in on the USCJ Facebook page at facebook.com/UnitedSynagogueCJ
Already we’ve heard numerous reports of storm damage to synagogue buildings – flooding and lost power are not uncommon -- but also of members and leaders making heroic efforts to keep their kehillot functioning and rush to the aid of those who need help. There continue to be inspiring acts of chesed and tzedakah on the part of so many of our kehillot.
- On Long Island, when a million people were without power, Congregation Tifereth Israel invited the community to the cantor’s house for a barbeque; went door to door checking on elderly members; and coordinated a “flashlight bar mitzvah.”
- In Westchester County, also facing extensive power outages, Beth El Synagogue Center invited people to “come in from the dark” for shmoozing, charging cell phones, minyan, and a pizza dinner.
- Across the region, kehillot not adversely affected are offering to host b’nai mitzvah celebrations and Shabbat services that would have been postponed or cancelled due to storm damage, while kehillot thousands of miles from the storm zone are collecting funds to help those in need.
- As recovery has continued, several kehillot have received grants from USCJ to hold community dinners - a chance to eat together, learn about options and resources for rebuilding, and just have an opportunity to spend some time together as a community. In Hoboken, NJ, those who attended the dinner decided as a group to rebuild and restock the Hoboken food pantry - to pay it forward.
This kind of outreach, in which we look beyond the walls of our buildings to care for those around us, is what transforms a congregation into a kehilla, a sacred community.
What You Can Do To Help
Right now, we encourage you to donate to the many reputable organizations collecting funds for disaster relief. You can also donate to USCJ's disaster relief fund. If you’d like to speak to us about more ways you can help, please contact Jonathan Boiskin, our Chief Development Officer.
Please bear in mind that the best way to be of help at this point in the recovery is to donate funds rather than physical goods.
We pray that life soon returns to as close to normal as possible in the storm zone.