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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
Volume 1 - Number 3 -  September 2005 > Katrine

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- August 2005
- July 2005

Hurricane Katrine Hits New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi  found themselves right in the path of Hurricane Katrine, a level four hurricane which has wreaked devastation in its path. New Orleans has one of the oldest and largest Southern Jewish communities. Its Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue outside of the original 13 colonies.

Among the 10,000 to 12,000 Jews from New Orleans and its environs finding themselves homeless is Reva Kutner, President of the New Orleans Chapter of Hadassah. She reports that she is "in shock as we watch the waters rise today." She has been evacuated to Shreveport, Louisiana and will continue on to Houston, Texas where her son lives. Residents have been told not to expect to return to their homes within the month.

Other Jews found refuge at the Israeli embassy in Houston, at the Reform movement's Henry S. Jacobs Overnight Camp in Utica, Mississippi, or at one of the three Chabad houses which remained open in New Orleans.

We are starting to get reports from the affected areas, but the news is still very vague because residents are not being allowed into all the affected areas.  For example, people are being told that they will be permitted back next week to pick up what they can, then leave. They will then be asked not to return for another month.  We still do not have word on the state of the synagogues in New Orleans, but there is six feet of water in the area of the synagogue.  Fortunately, the Torahs were moved to high ground before the storm.
Our congregants in Biloxi have still not reached their synagogue, but there was a huge water surge at the beach.  It is unknown if that water reached the synagogue.  There is 10-12 feet of water in downtown Gulfport.

Mark Waldman

How you can help...


(1) ... give money

Shefa Fund - Tikun Olam for the Delta

From The Shefa Fund -- tikkun olam for the Delta

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know about a compelling Jewish initiative to address the injustices suffered by residents of the Delta, which are magnified in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

As a first step, The Shefa Fund has established a Hurricane Katrina Recovery and Redevelopment Fund.  We are coordinating with the Jewish Fund for Justice, and drawing on the advice of American Jewish World Service, to make strategic grants for both community development and community organizing focused on the Delta's low-income communities. Our first grant will be to the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta/HOPE Credit Union, where we have placed a Tzedec investment in the past. Shefa is waiving all grantmaking fees on contributions to this fund. 

We know that it will take years to rebuild these devastated communities and we want to make sure that the regionís low- and moderate-income residents will have a place and a voice in these efforts.  It matters that the Jewish community has a way to focus not just on relief, but on a visible way to support longer-term reinvestment and redevelopment for the low-income communities that need it most.

Please consider supporting this work and sharing this message with others. You can give on-line at http://www.shefafund.org/contribute.asp.

See below for more information about JFJ/Shefa's response to the devastation in the Delta and how our Jewish values can guide efforts to improve the lives of its low-income residents.



Sue Hoffman
Associate Director
The Shefa Fund
215-483-4004 x214
Advancing Jewish Social Responsibility Through Grantmaking, Investing and Education

The first blast of the shofar came early this year.

One week before the beginning of Elul, the Hebrew calendar's month of prayer, introspection, and repentance, Hurricane Katrina blew into the Delta. 

Watching the human suffering, we felt shock, horror, sadness.  Watching the failed response from Washington, we felt this way to an even greater degree.

Maimonides explains the custom of blowing the shofar during Elul as a tool to rouse us from our complacency. 

After Katrina, we are not complacent.  But how should we respond? As a nation; as Americans; as Jews?

Donations to house, feed, and clothes those impacted are vital.  And victims of Katrina, particularly those without means, deserve more than the basic necessities.

They deserve chesed (Loving Kindness). And they deserve tzedek (Justice).

Over the coming months and years, we are committed to leading a continuing Jewish response to the injustices suffered by those without income and influence.  To this end, Jewish Fund for Justice (JFJ) and The Shefa Fund, two national Jewish 501(c)3 non-profit organizations dedicated to anti-poverty and low-income community development, have established a joint JFJ/Shefa Hurricane Katrina Recovery and Redevelopment Project.  

Our approach acknowledges this reality:  All communities in Katrina's path suffered.  But they did not suffer equally.  Low-income communities in the Delta were neglected before, during, and immediately following the hurricane.  Those who had little before Katrina now have nothing. 

We have created the Hurricane Katrina Recovery and Redevelopment Fund to acknowledge that reality, and to help focus some Jewish giving on the long-term redevelopment needs of the disaster's most neglected victims.  This fund represents a continuation of work which Shefa has been doing for years.  While the devastation is unparalleled in scope, The Shefa Fund has considerable experience targeting Jewish giving to help low-income communities.

The first local group to receive support from the fund is the Jackson, MS-based Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (ECD), a local community development financial institution (CDFI), and its New Orleans-based Hope Community Credit Union (HOPE).  ECD/HOPE has twelve years of experience in strengthening distressed areas to help residents rebuild their lives, homes, businesses and communities.  ECD is well-known to Shefa through our Tzedec program, and we have great confidence in the organization.

ECD/HOPE has described their giving strategy as focused first on community partners who are providing food, clothing and shelter for those displaced, before shifting to support payment deferrals, provide down payment assistance, establish loss reserves, and otherwise extend a bridge to those recovering from this tragedy.

We will continue to work with and support community-based partners in the region which are uniquely positioned to address the unmet needs of low-income residents -- groups that have earned the trust of their communities.

When you contribute to the recovery effort, consider sending the message that chesed, without tzedek, is not enough.

Thank you and Shalom,


Simon Greer                         Jeffrey Dekro

Executive Director                 President

Jewish Fund for Justice         The Shefa Fund


Contributions to the fund can be made by visiting >www.shefafund.org. Additional information about the JFJ/Shefa Hurricane Katrina Recovery and Redevelopment Project, including ways for you to get involved, are available on The Shefa Fund website www.shefafund.org.and at www.jfjustice.org, or by contacting Sue Hoffman at shoffman@shefafund.org


B'nai Brith Disaster Relief Fund

Contributions through Bínai Bírith should be made payable to the Bínai Bírith Disaster Relief Fund and sent to: Bínai Bírith International, 2020 K Street, N.W., Seventh Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006; or online by going to www.bnaibrith.org and clicking on the link for disaster relief.

United Jewish Communities Hurricane Katrina Relief Plan

Contribution through the UJC can be made online at www.ujc.org or by mail at United Jewish Communities, P.O. Box 30, Old Chelsea Station, N.Y., 10113, attention: Hurricane Katrina. Mark the memo section of checks with "Katrina." Focus is on community organized and administered humanitarian relief for disaster victims.

UJC's Hurricane Katrina relief plan will allocate funds through local communities for emergency needs such as foodstuffs and basic supplies; financial aid; mental-health counseling; temporary housing and respite care for thousands of evacuees and health care not covered by insurance.

Relief aid and services will be provided in conjunction with local Jewish and non-Sectarian agencies in the affected areas. UJC is working with FEMA and other National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) agencies including the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army and others. Most importantly, all dollars raised will go directly to hurricane relief efforts. 

Union for Reform Judaism Disaster Relief Fund

Contributions through the Union for Reform Judaism can be made at www.urj.org/give. Information on the Disaster Relief Fund can be found at www.urj.org/relief.

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Hurricane Disaster Relief

The United Synagogue has opened our Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund.  We ask Conservative Jews to make a financial contribution that will help our communities affected by the hurricanes. 


Our Conservative synagogues are still assessing damage to their buildings and communities.  Synagogues in the affected areas that sustain extensive damage that is not covered by insurance may receive money from the fund.  Funds for assistance to individual victims will be made from our Hurricane Relief Fund to organizations on the ground that are best able to provide direct assistance.    


Credit card donations can be made online at www.uscj.org; just click on the link to the Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund.  When you make a credit card donation you must write in the designation box that the donation is for the Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund. 


Donations by check can be made payable to "USCJ"; indicate in the memo section that the donation is for the Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund.  Checks should be mailed to  USCJ Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund; 121 Congressional Lane; Suite 210 ; Rockville , MD 20852 .  In order to reduce administrative costs we will not send an acknowledgement of the donation unless required by law or requested by the donor.

Mark Waldman

USCJ Director of Public Policy

Orthodox Union Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund

The Orthodox Union is serving as a conduit for funds for communities and families affected by the hurricane. All money collected will be disbursed directly to those in need and no overhead costs will be assigned from these funds.

Contributions may be made through their website, or by sending your check, payable to Orthodox Union and marked "Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund," to Orthodox Union, 11 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10004. Please write "Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund" clearly on both the check and the envelope.

Chabad of Louisiana Hurricane Relief

Chabad of Louisiana has established a relief fund to continue being at the forefront of the relief efforts on behalf of the entire region. Chabad is working with its network of center in the areas to which people evacuated to provide food, shelter and emotional and spiritual comfort to these thousands of people. I ask and encourage you to participate generously by visiting the website www.chabadmainline.org and clicking on the Chabad Hurricane Relief link, or mail check to their national office: Jewish Hurricane Relief Fund, 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213. The Jewish Relief Agency is part of Chabad.

Jewish Federations of Greater Houston and New Orleans

ORT suggests sending money to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston http://www.houstonJewish.org which is new temporary home of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.

Mazon Hurricane Relief

Help MAZONís relief efforts by making a donation here.  Be sure to specify in our "Special Instructions" field that your donation is for hurricane relief.

American Jewish Committee

It is our moral imperative to respond to the needs of our fellow Americans in the South. All contributions to AJC's Hurricane Katrina Fund will be used to provide urgent necessary services as well as to help with reconstruction projects. Send your donation to AJCís Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund at: Ms. Brenda Rudzin, American Jewish Committee, 165 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022. For more information contact us at HurricaneKatrina@ajc.org

Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

Our local Federation's Center for Social Responsibility established a Hurricane Relief Fund which is accepting contributions to be used for short-term humanitarian relief and long-term rebuilding efforts for members of the general and Jewish communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The Fund will also help support communities outside the devastated areas where displaced hurricane victims are temporarily residing. 

The Federation's Center for Social Responsibility in line with its mission to aid people in need, especially thorugh social action effort has begun the fund to help alleviate the colossal emotional and physical damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina. The center will work with United Jewish Communities (UJC), Federation's national partner, to distribute all funds raised.

To donate online go to www.jewishphilly.com/katrina or make a check out to "Jewish Federation" with "Hurricane Relief Fund" in the memo field and mail it to: Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Hurricane Relief Fund, Post Office Box 57200, Philadelphia, PA 19111-7200.

Our fellow Jews and fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast area need us now like never before. I hope you will help us to help them to the very best of our ability. Thank you.

-- Beryl D. Simonson, Board Chair and Harold S. Goldman, President

(2) .. open up your home to those in need


More than money, refugees from New Orleans and surrounding areas need housing. If you have spare room or know someone who does especially within 300 miles of the effected area, contact http://www.hurricanehousing.org. People in contact with displaced persons can use the same website to search for housing on their behalf.

Hosts for Hospitals

HOSTS for HOSPITALS is a wonderful organization. They pre-screen and work with host families to make an appropriate placement (usually for family members of hospitalized patients). I recommend them strongly and encourage listing your name with them if you have any extra space you might be willing to offer to New Orleans refugees. You can send your information to Mike Aichenbaum (Mikeaoz@AOL.COM). -- William C. Holmes.

I would ask then that you to email me if in theory you or someone you know may be open to lodging a Katrina family; in doing so, please indicate the maximum number of individuals and length of time for which you would be willing to offer such lodging, along with any other information/restrictions which you think we should know.

We will work to screen as best we can any Katrina family contacting HfH about receiving lodging. As it our normal practice, we will then share with you everything we know about the applicant family. If you then would like to further explore lodging that family, we will work with you to be in contact directly with the guest-family.  -- Mike Aichenbaum

(3) ... head out to the affected area

Pennacchio for Pennsylvania

Volunteers are forming a work group that will be going to Louisiana or Alabama to help with the relief efforts there.

Please join us Sept. 14 - 21 (plus travel time). We will live in the tent city in Montgomery or Baton Rouge where we are assigned. We will receive specific training when we arrive. If you can make this committment, I urge you to join us. Please contact the coordinator, Eric Loeb, at frontaloeb@yahoo.com.