Sandy Wreaks Untold Havoc on Jewish Communities

From Coney to Manhattan, Damage Is Ferocious But Fickle

Dead Aim: New photo shows Sandy’s storm surge racing toward homes in Brooklyn’s Sea Gate.
Raizy Lefkowitz
Dead Aim: New photo shows Sandy’s storm surge racing toward homes in Brooklyn’s Sea Gate.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published October 31, 2012, issue of November 02, 2012.
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At 200 East End Avenue, a high-end apartment building on the Upper East Side, flooding in the basement and the boiler room led to explosions. Residents were evacuated to an adjoining building, 180 East End Avenue, where neighbors took them in. Some slept in apartments, others in the building’s common spaces.

“People stayed on phones, trying to get them placed. This was 9 o clock last night,” said Fran Nathan, a resident of 180 East End Avenue. “It was quite a wonderful thing.” (Nathan is this reporter’s great-aunt.)

Jewish communal officials have yet to measure the scale of the damage and develop coherent rehabilitation plans.

“I haven’t spoken to major institutions out there yet,” Pollock said, noting that it was hard enough to just get around in some parts of Brooklyn, with some roads still flooded and others blocked by trees. “It’s going to be days and weeks to get workers out.”

B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Union for Reform Judaism have each sent emails soliciting donations to disaster relief funds.

John Ruskay, CEO of the UJA Federation of New York, said that his network’s focus now was on getting needy and elderly clients to safety. “The first priority today and until we finish is to identify the people who are isolated, who need to be helped and need to be relocated. That trumps all other considerations,” Ruskay said. “The first priority is taking care of people. Then we’ll assess the damage to buildings.”

Residents of hard-hit districts, meanwhile, remain shaken. Power and traffic lights are out in the upstate Orthodox towns of Spring Valley and Monsey, according to Yossi Gestetner, an Orthodox political blogger and resident. Gestetner said that the neighborhood was in turmoil and that many residents were heading to Brooklyn to stay with relatives as long as the power was out.

“It’s a complete mess,” Gestetner said.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at or on Twitter@joshnathankazis

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