Jewish Volunteers Step Up for Sandy Victims

Communal Groups Rev Up Relief Efforts After Storm

Helping Hand: Volunteers from Masbia Soup Kitchens/Met-Council and Chaverim prepare emergency food for seniors affected by Sandy at the Park Slope Armory in Brooklyn.
Helping Hand: Volunteers from Masbia Soup Kitchens/Met-Council and Chaverim prepare emergency food for seniors affected by Sandy at the Park Slope Armory in Brooklyn.

By JTA

Published November 02, 2012.
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Rapaport said that Masbia was particularly concerned about the food seniors at shelters were eating. Shelters were providing military-grade food rations, he said, describing the offerings as “lasagna meets chulent” that were high in sodium.

Rapaport said that Masbia had recently received a large shipment of fresh fish that it would bring to the shelters. “It’s low in sodium and much healthier for the older people,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the Lower East Side, students from Yeshiva University went on foot to the area’s public housing units, handing out water, flashlights, batteries, fruit and dried snacks. Volunteers were organized by students, and the supplies came from the student government’s own budget.

“The student response has been great,” said Margot Reinstein, the student council president at Yeshiva’s Stern College for Women, as she lugged a case of water bottles down Cherry Street. “We all felt really lucky that the storm didn’t affect our families the way it did down here. People with Uri L’Tzedek told us there are some buildings here with seniors on life support who are stuck. No heat, no electricity, no way of getting out.”

Many Jewish organizations set up relief funds online to funnel money to communities impacted by the hurricane. UJA-Federation of New York collected hundreds of challahs that it planned to distribute Friday in advance of Shabbat. Butterflake, a popular kosher bakery in New Jersey, donated over 300 challahs to the effort.

Occupy Judaism, a group of Jewish supporters of Occupy Wall Street, has been live-blogging volunteer opportunities around the city on its Facebook page. Other organizations like Chabad Young Professionals and JCorps, a Jewish social volunteering group, also sent volunteers to hundreds of apartments in Lower Manhattan with supplies.

Nechama, a Jewish disaster-response nonprofit located in Minnesota, arrived in the New York area late Thursday to help cleanup efforts and utility crews.

“We’ve deployed four staff members with two trailers equipped with tools for anything we will possibly encounter,” said Ross Topol, the group’s operations leadership fellow. “We do mucking and gutting of houses, chainsaw work, tree removal, roof tarping, debris removal and damage assessments.”

The Union for Reform Judaism, in addition to setting up its own relief fund, worked on relocating bar and bat mitzvah services from towns that didn’t have power to other Reform synagogues that do, and is also providing insurance specialists to help with filing insurance claims.


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