Community

Starbuck Ballner

While reporting on Hurricane Sandy, Forward reporters witnessed scores of flooded basements, wrecked storefronts, and crumbling synagogue walls. Yet in the aftermath of such a tragedy, we were inspired by the work of those who selflessly answered the call to rebuild our damaged communities.

One such volunteer was Starbuck Ballner, 27, the operations and administrative coordinator for Nechama: Jewish Response to Disaster.

Nechama, a small nonprofit group based in Minnesota, had in the past worked primarily to restore Midwestern towns affected by floods. But within days of Sandy’s landfall, the group dispatched teams east to help.

Nechama arrived with little funding and no place to stay, but led on the ground by Ballner, became a long-term fixture in the flood zone — helping families and communities rebuild their homes and houses of worship, regardless of their religious background.

Stacey Eager-Leavitt, president of Long Island’s South Baldwin Jewish Center, said her building incurred more than $100,000 in Sandy-related damages. Initially, she thought it would not reopen. With Nechama’s help, the South Baldwin Jewish Center was able to clean up the debris in two days and hold events again within weeks.

Ballner told the Forward he often stayed up past midnight planning for the next day, and that he and his group would be back in the field by dawn.

Today, Ballner has moved onto his next journey, as a member of the United States Coast Guard. Meanwhile, one year later, Nechama remains in situ, continuing to help rebuild, continuing to inspire.

“They were like knights in shining armor,” said Eager-Leavitt.

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!
  • 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?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • 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.