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The Schmooze

10 Most Jewish Hurricanes in History

As Hurricane Joaquin menaces, we at the Forward want to delay running in fear and buying emergency supplies. In the name of such procrastination, here are the ten most Jewish hurricanes to torment the globe since the United States officially began naming hurricanes in 1953.

A note on terminology: this list includes cyclones and typhoons, both of which are exactly the same as hurricanes, but happen in different parts of the world. ( “Hurricane” is used in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, “cyclone” in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, “typhoon” in the Northwest Pacific). Tropical storms, also included on this list, are storm systems that have hurricane potential but never quite make it.

Isaac (1982, 1988, 2000, 2006, 2012)

The first Isaac, a tropical cyclone, devastated Tonga, causing mass homelessness as well as serious infrastructural damage. The other four were mostly tame; 2000 caused one death, and 2012 racked up $2 billion in damages in Louisiana.

Notable Jewish Isaacs: our second patriarch, , founder of American Reform Judaism, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.

Rebecca (1961, 1968)

Both Rebeccas took place in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, and neither ever reached land.

Notable Jewish Rebeccas: the matriarch, wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau.

Rachel (1984, 1990, 1997, 1999, 2014)

While Rachel had little impact in 1984, 1999, and 2014, in 1990 Tropical Storm Rachel caused 18 deaths and made thousands homeless in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, and 1997’s Rachel was categorized as a Severe Tropical Cyclone and made landfall in in Western Australia.

Notable Jewish Rachels: the matriarch, wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin, actress Rachel Weisz.

Hanna (2008)

2008’s Hurricane Hanna, which formed in late August, was the year’s deadliest Atlantic storm. It took the lives of 537 people, primarily in flooded sections of northern Haiti.

Notable Jewish Hannas (or Hannahs): Hannah, biblical mother of Samuel, Hannah Arendt, Hanna Rovina, “the First Lady of Hebrew Theatre,” and Ukrainian-Israeli triple jumper and long jumper Hanna Knyazyeva-Minenko.

Miriam (1978, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000, 2006, 2012)

Aside from the 1988 Hurricane, technically named Hurricane Joan-Miriam, the Hurricanes Miriam all have the same story: minor storm, did not affect land. Hurricane Joan-Miriam, renamed after crossing from the Caribbean into the Pacific, killed at least 216 people. All of the deaths happened on Joan’s side.

Notable Jewish Miriams: Miriam, biblical prophetess and sister of Moses and Aaron and Miriam Israeli, Brooklyn-born lyricist and singer.

Danielle (1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2010)

The various Danielles have succeeded in causing flooding in Texas (1980), damaging homes and causing power outages in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1986), sinking a New Jersey boat, thus causing two deaths (1992), and subjecting the United Kingdom to some large waves (1998). 2004 and 2010 were uneventful years.

Notable Jewish Danielles: Danielle “Gravity Bender” Frenkel, an Israeli high jump champion, Danielle Fishel, American actress most famous for playing Topanga on Boy Meets World.

Sam (2000)

Cyclone Sam brought severe flooding to much of Northern Australia and endangered boats carrying illegal immigrants from Indonesia to Australia, although all passengers survived. Remarkable for being the only storm on this list the name of which was retired.

Notable Jewish Sams: Sam, title character of the failed TV pilot “Hurricane Sam,” played by Jewish Ben Savage.

Jerry (1989)

Jerry hit the southeast US. In Texas it caused three deaths, destroyed 20 miles of a highway that has never been rebuilt, and provoked major power outages. In Kentucky and Virginia it spawned flash floods that damaged homes, forced hundreds of evacuations, and washed out bridges and roads.

Notable Jewish Jerrys: this guy.

Larry (2003, 2006)

2003’s Tropical Storm Larry mostly impacted Mexico, where flooding killed five people. In 2006 Severe Tropical Storm Larry hit Australia with over $1 billion in damage.

Notable Jewish Larrys: two American greats, Larry David of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Larry Fine of the Three Stooges.

Seymour (1992)

Hurricane Seymour developed south of Baja, California, and never touched land.

Notable Jewish Seymours: Seymour Hersh, investigative journalist and political writer, and Seymour Siegel, prominent American Conservative rabbi and advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.

Talya Zax is the Forward’s culture intern. There has never been a tropical storm named Talya, Talia, or Natalia, but there has been a Hurricane Tanya as well as a Tropical Storm Natalie — close enough.

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