Few Synagogues Damaged by Sandy Have Received FEMA Help

Congregations Reopen But Expensive Repairs Are Needed

Hard Hit: 70 synagogues like Temple Israel were hit hard by superstorm Sandy. Only two have received FEMA relief funds to rebuild.
COURTESY OF TEMPLE ISRAEL
Hard Hit: 70 synagogues like Temple Israel were hit hard by superstorm Sandy. Only two have received FEMA relief funds to rebuild.

By Seth Berkman

Published May 04, 2013, issue of May 10, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The funding comes at an opportune time for West End. Original estimates of damages were about $1 million, but they have gone up to about $1.5 million, according to Susan Greenbaum, the synagogue’s project manager. Since February, services have been held in a trailer in the synagogue’s parking lot. But Greenbaum said that by the end of May, the main building’s nursery school, social hall and bathrooms should be operational again.

Like West End, other synagogues continue to make do with temporary arrangements. At Beth El in the Queens neighborhood Belle Harbor, worship and office work are still taking place in a trailer. The synagogue’s original estimate for repairs was about $100,000. That estimate now stands at $500,000. The congregation hopes to return to its main building in the summer, but costs continue to rise.

Some synagogues, facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs, waited months for a response from FEMA, only to be denied. Rabbi Levi Gurkov of Long Island’s Chabad of Oceanside said his congregation originally incurred $500,000 in damages from the storm and that costs are increasing. “There’s more corroding of pipes,” he said. “Salt water takes a while to eat it up.” Chabad of Oceanside also has yet to receive any insurance payments. Gurkov said he is still arguing with his company over what damages should be covered.

Others turned to the community to help rebuild. Stacey Eager-Leavitt, president of Long Island’s South Baldwin Jewish Center, said that when she was declined by FEMA, she “culled a lot of favors” from members and neighbors, such as carpenters and cleaners who could do recovery work.


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!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • 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.