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Reflections on Hurricane Sandy

Below are a series of reflections on Hurricane Sandy, reactions from communities, and responses to a letter from Rabbi Steve Gutow.

Stuart Dattner

The politicians keep ignoring global warm which may have contributed to the size of the hurricane.

Perhaps Obama will now have the political strength to start more serious actions regarding Global Warming.

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Paul Fishman, Portland, OR

Beyond FEMA we need to pull ourselves together as we did during the WWII War Effort. Please read Paul's blog about a Disaster Recovery Administration and share if you agree. Better yet write to your Congresspeople and our President. This is about saving lives. Read more on Paul's blog.

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Rabbi Mark N. Goldman, Temple Bet Yam, St. Augustine, Florida

Dear Steve!!

       Absolutely eloquent, powerful, honest, uplifting, moving, heartfelt, inspiring... Magnificent!

Thank you abundantly for your blessed words...

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Mario Melendez

The world could be beyond our control but it is not.  The Lord GOD, gave us 2 Chronicles 7:14. What a joy to know!!!!!!!!! 

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Kristi Hansen

Thank you. This talked to me at a very deep level. G-d bless you. I am freed to be fragile and human. with compassion for the humanity in others.

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Avrum Ashery

Yes, the hand of nature is far greater than our plans, but still there is a need to prepare in pragmatic ways with periodic drills. When people lose their homes, there should have been some planning and prep that would have ushered those in need directly to shelter and warm with food, especially in NY, but we hardly ever plan for the worst or at least attempt to plan.

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Daniel Goldberg, Ocean City Jewish Federation

Ocean County NJ Sandy Update #1

Thank you all for your good wishes and for reaching out. Also thank you to JFNA’s emergency management team, Steven Woolf from the DC office etal who have been in ongoing contact.

Lakewood as you know is in Ocean County, the name says it all.

You may have seen pictures on TV of Long Beach Island which is a barrier Island right off the shore one up from Atlantic city on the coast. It was more or less ground zero for land fall.

The Island was evacuated, good thing because the bay and ocean connected washing over the entire island. There is a small Jewish community there, a conservative synagogue which was just rebuilt last winter and rededicated in the spring. Luckily the rebuild was done on the new building codes because the building itself is high up and the water line just touched the bottom of the siding where the floors are. The synagogues Rabbi’s house was not as lucky and was flooded but looks like it will not be a total loss.

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Sharon Marmour, Mitzpe Netofa, Israel

My family moved to northern Israel this past June and, as former New Jersey residents (and still homeowners), we were certainly monitoring the hurricane news online and through friends and family in NYC and NJ.
We are still on our synagogue's email list, Maplewood Jewish Center. While we worried about friends and family, our hearts were warmed here by the emails we saw going out from our shul - which didn't lose power - with offers of free warm meals, a warm place to spend some time with lights, re-charge devices, and even efforts to get internet service into the synagogue so that people could feel connected to the outside world.
With all the news about Iran and the uncertain "neighborhood" in which my family now resides, no one thought it was us who would be worrying about their safety first - everyone thought it would be the other way around.
We miss our Maplewood community but are happy to see the community continuing to grow and thrive and, as Jews always manage to do so well in times of crisis, unite together to help each other and those around us.
Wishing all those who have suffered or continue to suffer through home damage, power loss, and more a fast resolution to these issues with sympathies to those who have lost loved ones.

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Elliot Forchheimer, Executive Director, Westchester Jewish Council

Is it Purim?
Reform Jews being hosted in Orthdox synagogues?  Orthodox synagogues davening in the JCC.  Jewish day schools serving free Shabat dinners to all comers at 2:00 on friday afternoon?  No it is not a Purim-shpiel but rather the Jewish community of Westchester coming together across "denominational lines" to support each other in response to Hurricane Sandy.  Once again, Westchester shows that what may at times divide us is not ever as strong as what unites us.

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Robert Grun

At the end of this story there is a line about the world being beyond our control.  I think that global warming has a big impact on our weather. I live in New Jersey and was affected by the storm. NJ never had hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes yet it keeps on happening now. Our political leaders can try and lessen pollution that cause global warming. Many choose to ignore it in favor of financial rewards.

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Annette Sneidmiller

I think Robt. Burns said it best...succinctly.....The Best Laid Plans of Mice and men.................

We think we can control our own destiny, well we certainly cannot.  Mother Nature has the last say. My heart goes out to those so affected by Sandy and the rest of the world where there is famine, war etc.  So dreadful that we will always have these situations with us.

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Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Rabbi Steve Gutow raised some important questions that have arisen for us “after Sandy.”  (The storm has passed, but it won’t be “after” for quite a while.)  Two of the biggest questions: The “causes” of Sandy, and whether we are helpless before such explosive forces of nature, able only to ease the suffering they cause.
 About the “causes,” first: Suppose we were applying biblical theology to the events of this past week:
 We might say that God listened to the two major candidates for President of the most powerful nation in the world refusing to say the words “climate change” or “global warming” in a single one of their major speeches and debates.
 And then God, His face flaring red in hot anger, acting as King and Judge and Lord to rebuke their sin, sent their country an overheated storm to punish and remind them what is the greatest problem they should have been addressing.

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Sydney Perry, CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven

As the whole Eastern Seaboard struggles to recover from the unprecedented damage caused by superstorm Sandy, our own Jewish community is assessing the devastation to the area and the ways in which we can be of assistance to those who are hardest hit.
On Tuesday morning we awoke to homes on the shoreline that were flooded from Milford down the coast to East Haven through Old Saybrook. Because of its wide-ranging, howling winds and the confluence with the full moon and high tides, the massive storm brought with it record high storm surge. The whole area was, and in some cases, still is affected. It was a "perfect storm" leaving behind a tableau of downed trees, electrical outages, damage, grief and destruction.
At such times, the Jewish community mobilizes to assist in both short term distress and long term recovery for storm victims.

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Bottom line is that we have to care of ourselves. We have no idea what is happening and when we will get power and gas. There are people who have had no power and heat for over a week   We have no shelter close by. Also we do not know about voting tomorrow as most of our schools have no power.

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Alex Budnitskiy, JCC of Bensonhurst, Brookly, NY

…. After making the second round of hundreds of phone calls to our long list of homebound seniors, we discovered that one of our long time members, Lily S., who finally answered her phone, was in a terrible situation.  She lives on the tenth floor and was already 72 hours without heat, food and electricity. Depressed. Lonely. Her children live in New Jersey and were stuck there and could not come to help her.

I decided to join one of our caseworkers, Zina Kagonovich, on a home visit to bring Lily some help and reassurance. We arrived at 445 Neptune Avenue to find the usually bustling and flourishing area to be deserted. It truly looked like a war zone. Abandoned cars were left everywhere, flooded by the storm waters, now unusable. Emergency workers were dealing with the fallen trees and cutting them. We finally found Lily's building, a subsidized apartment housing complex.  As we entered the building, the only light in the lobby was daylight from outside. We found the main floor all emptied out and saw that the senior center which usually operates on the main floor is no longer there, as their offices flooded and they had to leave. A man in uniform told us that tomorrow (which is today) the National Guard will come and evacuate the seniors.  A total stranger – a Russian speaking senior gentleman was standing there, and when he heard the word evacuation he started shouting in Russian “we will never leave, we will stay”. He said “we will stay because we need to protect our property, you should see what’s happening here at night, there are people crushing cars with baseball bats.”. Apparently vandalism has started in the neighborhood and anger is growing among the residents who feel abandoned.

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