This past weekend, I was glued to my TV, watching with deep personal interest the footage from Hurricane Irma. As a 4th generation Tampa native, it pained me to know many of my family and loved ones, who still live in the area, were at risk of experiencing the wrath of one of the most powerful hurricanes in recent history. I watched in disbelief as news footage showed a bare sea floor near the area where I once lived. The powerful storm had literally sucked the water away from the shore.
In Florida, it is estimated that 10 million people are without power. Many residents are just now assessing the damage, as they return home from mandatory evacuations. We can only imagine the devastation left behind. Jewish Federations of North America has established a new fund to help our friends impacted by Hurricane Irma. If you would like to make a donation, please click here.
In Houston, clean up from Hurricane Harvey continues. A staggering 71% of the 51,000 Jews who live there reside in areas affected by flooding. Over 1,000 Jewish families have been displaced from their homes. Six major Houston Jewish institutions suffered catastrophic flood damage, including three of the largest synagogues and a day school. These numbers are early estimates, and are expected to rise.
To date, Federations’ Hurricane Harvey relief efforts have raised more than $10 million. These funds have helped provide temporary housing, transportation, food, cleaning supplies, trauma support, and much, much more. I am pleased to say many from our local Jewish community have donated to this vital cause.
As I was looking over the list of donors sent from JFNA, something unusual stuck out. It was a donation for $732.50 from Audrey MacKenzie, our Early Childhood Director. I had to ask her about the inspiration for donating such a precise amount. Throughout the year, our preschool collects money on Shabbat. The children look forward to putting their coins in the Tzedakah box. Audrey informed me one of our early childhood teacher’s suggested we donate the preschool’s Tzedakah money to help those in Houston. I was touched, and so very proud. It warmed my heart to know our community is committed to helping victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in whatever way they can.