63 New York Synagogues Damaged by Sandy

Superstorm Also Damaged Six Jersey Shuls, Forward Finds

By Seth Berkman

Published December 06, 2012, issue of December 07, 2012.
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At least 63 synagogues in the New York area suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy, along with several in New Jersey, a Forward investigation reveals.

UJA-Federation, which is compiling data on Hurricane Sandy’s impact on Jewish institutions, reports that so far, it has heard from 64 synagogues in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County that have incurred damage. Four of those shuls told the Forward that they had not suffered any damage. But three additional synagogues not on the list did suffer damage in the October superstorm, officials at those synagogues said.

In New Jersey, where the eye of the storm made landfall, six synagogues suffered some damage.

UJA-Federation spokeswoman Roberta Lee was unable to offer any monetary estimate of total damages or breakdowns on damages to individual synagogues, but she said the severity ranged from minor flooding to millions of dollars in repairs. She stressed that the federation’s damage survey remained ongoing and would change over time.

One Jewish communal official involved in the aid effort noted that the areas damaged most heavily in the hurricane, such as the Rockaways and Brooklyn’s Sea Gate, were homes to “marginal” Jewish populations.

“To a great extent, a lot of the Jewish poor lived in these communities,” said the official, who would speak only if assured of anonymity because he was not authorized as a spokesman on this issue. The synagogues were old, as were many of their members, he said. And many of the old synagogues and homes were not insured against natural disaster.

Chabad of the Five Towns, in the Long Island town of Cedarhurst, reported minor roof problems, while Shula Winner, co-director of Chabad Synagogue of Manhattan Beach, in Brooklyn, said that her building had flooding reaching about 5-feet high. She estimated damage at about $100,000.


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