Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
This week’s events in Texas reminded me of a time, not so long ago, when my family and I were waiting out 2014’s Hurricane Charlie while we were living in Sarasota, Florida. We were all huddled together as the high winds and torrential rains threatened our home, even our lives. I remember being so frightened, but being strong for my wife and children.
While our home was thankfully spared, I also remember the outpouring of help that came in from all over the country to help our region which was hit hard. Though we were fine, surrounding areas were severely damaged – people were without homes, power and basic necessities, and schools and governmental agencies were closed.
Disasters like Hurricane Harvey or wild fires in Israel are obviously most frightening for those hit first-hand, but often those of us not directly affected feel helpless because we so deeply care and want to help. Through the collective power of Federation, you can, as I have.
Our parent organization, the Jewish Federation of North America, has reached out to every Federation and network community in the vicinity of the storm, even as Lee Wunsch, the Federation CEO in Houston, evacuated his own home as a nearby river started overflowing its banks.
Federations throughout the country, including our own, have reached out to offer our support. And while it will be days, even weeks, until the full extent of the damage can be determined, we have created a dedicated fund to help ensure that those affected by Hurricane Harvey will receive urgently needed food and medicine, and more long-term needs like trauma counseling. The funds will go to emergency service providers so they can help where help is needed most.
This week’s Torah portion is Ki Teitzei (when you go forth) in the book of Deuteronomy. Of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) we are asked to live by, 74 are listed here. The one that calls to me this week is,”Thou shalt surely help him to lift (them) up again.” How apropos. It is in moments like these that we, as human beings and as Jews, decide who we are, how we respond and how history will remember us. Kol Yisrael aravim zeh ba zeh, Each and every Jew, is responsible one for the other. I expand this to mean that each and every one of us is responsible one for the other.
With our thoughts and prayers turned to those in Central Texas….
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