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.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

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.

Rabbi Marjorie Slome of West End Temple, which is located in the Queens neighborhood of Neponsit in the Rockaways, estimated more than $1 million in damages to her synagogue. She said that with help from the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York she would apply to FEMA for aid.

In New Jersey, where there are 18 Jewish federations, damage to area synagogues was substantially less than in New York.

In Ocean County, which includes a number of synagogues in coastal communities, only one synagogue reported to the local federation about suffering physical damage.

New Jersey’s Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, which covers northern and central areas of the state, reported that only three of its 74 synagogues suffered physical damage. Shelley Labiner, MetroWest’s chief marketing officer, said she was not aware of any synagogues requesting help in applying for FEMA aid. Other federations reported no damage aside from power losses, or hadn’t kept extensive lists of the status of the synagogues in their area.

Rabbi Robert Scheinberg of the United Synagogue of Hoboken estimated $50,000 worth of damage to his congregation’s basement, which took in seven feet of water.

Rabbi Benjamin Adler of White Meadow Temple, in Rockaway, N.J., said his congregation lost part of its roof. He gave a “ballpark estimate” of total damage at $20,000. Adler said he was waiting to hear back on what his insurance would cover.

Rabbi David Bauman of Temple Israel of Long Beach, in Long Island’s Nassau County, estimated $5 million worth of damages, cleanup and reconstruction for his congregation’s building. Bauman said his synagogue was insured, but he noted, “Insurance companies have outs for everything.”

Synagogues Hurt by Sandy

Contact Seth Berkman at berkman@forward.com

Assistant managing editor Larry Cohler-Esses contributed to this story


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.