After Sandy, NY Jewish Community Comes Together

Volunteers prepare a distribution of food and water coordinated by Chabad-Lubavitch of Tribeca and SoHo two days after Hurricane Sandy struck New York City; photo courtesy Chabad.


After Sandy, Volunteers Crisscross Manhattan to Help

In a nearly dark corner of lower Manhattan, in an area otherwise known as Tribeca, Rabbi Zalman Paris stands tall, cellular phone in hand, to answer another call from a young volunteer eager to offer assistance. Days after Hurricane Sandy left millions across New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey without electricity, food or water, there are plenty of people who want to help victims and their communities recover.

From his window, Paris, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Tribeca and SoHo, watched the storm hurl itself into the homes and lives of residents nearby. The storm prevented him from venturing outdoors, but the moment he was able to, the rabbi assembled a plan and a team to help his neighbors.

“Many organizations have joined us in our efforts to help those in need during this hard time,” he said.

Paris partnered with Rabbi Levi Shmotkin of Chabad Young Professionals, Ari Teman of JCorps, and Julie Menin, a candidate for Manhattan Borough President.

“We brought in a paramedic to aid the elderly, who with no way out of their buildings needed immediate medical attention,” Shmotkin relayed.

Menin detailed that she kept the 10,000 people on her contact list updated by email.

“People would email that they needed food, water, diapers and baby formula. I then sent an email blast to Rabbi Paris,” said Menin.

All told, more than 100 volunteers traversed lower Manhattan, crisscrossing the city’s streets to visit nearly 3,000 apartment units in one day alone.

from PEJE:

Day Schools Helping Day Schools Recover from Hurricane Sandy

While there are many ways to help schools that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, we don’t want to focus on financial donations. Yes, money is vitally important here, but it’s not necessarily the ideal way for non-affected schools to show support. Instead, let’s use this forum, this network, to teach.

The fact is, many of our troubled schools are located in areas where power has not yet been restored and Internet connectivity is spotty. They aren’t online and plugged in and thus have not read about this project. Until these schools can fully communicate again, we must wait patiently.

 from UJA-Federation New York:

UJA-Federation Network Agencies Respond Quickly, Creatively to Hurricane Sandy

Ambulances hurried back and forth during evacuation efforts, and home care workers stayed overnight to ensure service to isolated seniors throughout the storm. Later, with phone lines and e-mail down, agencies stayed in operation around the clock with news often spread by word of mouth that a certain Y was offering childcare for parents, or that another synagogue was a place where the community could come to try and contact loved ones or to take a hot shower.

… Agencies such as Jewish Home Life Care and Parker Jewish Institute for Healthcare and Rehabilitation have scrambled to take in patients who had to be evacuated from other hospitals and nursing homes. Many agencies, including the Jewish Child Care Association and New York Legal Assistance Group, have set up makeshift headquarters elsewhere to continue their crucial work while the water recedes from their downtown Manhattan offices. Agencies such as the Educational Alliance and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty have employees going door to door, day and night, to check on the most at-risk seniors and others in the community who are without power and trapped because of limited mobility and the challenging conditions outside. Staff at many other agencies have also been working around the clock to ensure the safety of the people they serve.

Before the hurricane, UJA-Federation was working with agencies to let them know what emergency preparedness measures they could take. Now that the hurricane is passed, we’re helping them to pick up the pieces, whether that means dealing with insurance and assessing their damages, mobilizing critical governmental resources, or even hosting many agency leaders in our 59th street building.

… Elsewhere in the metropolitan area, synagogues and other organizations have become hubs for those affected by the storm. At Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester, Rabbi Josh Davidson estimates that most members of the community are without power, so the synagogue is serving as a shelter at night for those who need it.


To contribute to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund to help Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries throughout the affected region provide vital services to victims, click here.

In an effort to support our Hurricane Sandy-damaged day schools, the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish education has activated the social network of JDS and create, right now, an improvised program of school-to-school assistance,” (with “school-to-school assistance” linked here:

For those who need emergency assistance, Federation suggests, for now, that you reach out to government-run information centers such as 311 in the five boroughs and 211 in Long Island and Westchester. You can contact UJA-Federation’s J•1•1 Information and Referral Center at 1.877.UJA.NYJ11 with nonemergency inquiries or concerns.

As UJA-Federation and its agencies work with the community to figure out what help they need most, see a list of volunteer opportunities designed to help those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy. Also, UJA-Federation has opened the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. Funds raised will be used to provide support to agencies and communities that have been impacted by the devastation. One hundred percent of the funds will be used for aid; no administrative costs will be applied.