Moving Torah Scrolls as Isaac Roars

Jews in New Orleans Prepared for Storm's Lashing

Memory of Katrina: Isaac was no Katrina. But New Orleans Jews weren’t taking any chances.
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Memory of Katrina: Isaac was no Katrina. But New Orleans Jews weren’t taking any chances.

By JTA

Published August 30, 2012.
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Jewish agencies remained closed Wednesday and Thursday. Weil emailed a list of emergency numbers and an emergency email address, emergency@jewishola.com. The federation voice mail will be updated with community information as needed, he said. “You are not alone,” he wrote in his email.

Alan Smason, editor of the local Jewish paper, the Crescent City Jewish News, said that like most people he was relieved when the winds began dying down Thursday morning.

“A few pieces of the soffit flew off my house, and whenever there’s a major storm I have some problems with my downstairs,” he said. “Surprisingly, we did not have any major flooding in my area.”

He spent Thursday morning touring the suburb of Metairie, what he called “the Jewish corridor,” and said he saw little damage to Jewish institutions. He did see the sign of Beth Israel – the only synagogue irreparably damaged by Katrina and which dedicated its new building on Sunday – barely attached to the sign frame, so he reattached it, he said.

This Friday evening will mark the last time this season that the community’s three Reform congregations will worship together – a summertime tradition. This week’s host, Gates of Prayer, has power and is welcoming the community for a “blue jeans” Shabbat.

One of Shir Chadash’s family’s did survive a dramatic rescue. With water rising, a husband and wife were waiting in their car for a National Guard boat. They called their daughter on their cell phone, who called Shir Chadash. From there, Lassen called the rabbi to alert him. The couple was rescued and are now OK.

Despite the coinciding dates of Katrina and Isaac, Linden said he did not necessarily see a heavenly hand in such matters.

“I don’t think of these things theologically,” he said. But, he added, “Ritual offers the restoration of normalcy and that’s part of what we can provide,” he went on. “New Orleans is a great place. People came together and I know they’re now staying at each other’s houses and helping each other out and there’s something very powerful about that.”


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