Dear Young Israel Member,
It has been some time since I last sent an email to you. In truth we had been focused on setting up our organization for the future as we prepped for our National Board elections scheduled for later this week. In addition, getting in touch with the different shul leadership, both rabbinic and lay, has kept me away from sending out the biweekly emails. However, at this time it is crucial that I reach out to you and speak to you directly and openly.
Our community has been hurt and very badly. You have certainly seen the news, videos on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter posts, heard the reports or spoken and been in touch with friends and relatives on the Northeast coast. Perhaps you are even hosting some family, friends or ‘new’ friends for a few days or a weekend as the community begins to cleanup and heal. The devastation both physically and emotionally is beyond words. The weather has quickly turned cold and the gas lines continue for hours on end. There are moments when it seems that the despair will not end. Individuals, families and communities alike have, in many cases, lost everything they had from clothing to homes to shuls. Neighborhoods that have been the envy of our collective community have been shattered by Sandy. Some 20 feet from where I write this my neighbor is having the foundation of his home inspected and overhauled. There are no explanations.
Some of our fellow Young Israels took a beating. The Young Israel of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn suffered major water damage which resulted in an electrical fire knocking out their entire system for the foreseeable future. The Young Israel of Oceanside lost three sifrei Torah, thousands of seforim and all of their youth furniture and toys and sustained heavy damage to the main sanctuary. There are many more similar reports.
On the ground many wonderful and inspiring people and families have provided living space, clothing, food, water and gas for those who are in need. Many local organizations, including local Young Israels and not-so-local Young Israels have mobilized crews to cleanup or provide heat and generators for those who are in need. One set of examples is the Young Israels of Woodmere, Long Beach, Wavecrest & Bayswater, among many others in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut that have been severely damaged by the storm that have nonetheless become storm shelters and resource centers, as they gather food and clothing, provide heat, light, phone chargers, meals and some respite from the damage and devastation. Hundreds of people each day are coming in through their doors to partake of the generosity and benevolence both from the community and from other faith communities as well. The Young Israel of Shomrei Emunah Greater Washington hosted a busload of people for Shabbos and is looking to do so again. The Young Israel of Flatbush offered to host members of Young Israel of North Woodmere for Shabbos as well. The leaders of these Young Israels have been inspiring and have moved many in the area to push forward and to do more for others even as they suffer their own losses.
At the moment it is still far from enough. With bad weather forecast for today and tomorrow we may be in for some additional flooding and damage.
The needs are massive. We are therefore asking you, and have asked shuls and their respective leaders to hold Emergency appeal campaigns this Shabbos, November 10th, Parshas Chayei Sara, on behalf of the shuls and communities in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area that have been impacted by Sandy. There are many and their needs are growing. We are asking that you send donations to our ‘Young Israel Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund’ through our website (click here). The funds will be distributed directly to shul leadership who have the best knowledge of the needs of their shuls and members.
One final note. This week’s parsha, Chayei Sarah builds on the theme of last week, Hachnasat Orchim and Gemilut Chasadim, and tells the story of a young woman who provides water to an unknown and weary traveler, someone not of her land, language or location. It was an act of truly selfless loving kindness, one which is still inspiring us today. The people impacted by the hurricane are not ‘Eliezers’ but our family, friends and community. At this time we ask you to help us out and give generously.
Click here to donate.
Thank you in advance.
B'vracha and wishes for Besorot Tovot,
Rabbi Bini Maryles
Associate Executive Director
Senior Director of Branch Services; Young Israel
111 John St
New York, NY 10038
(o) 212.929.1525 ext 105