Thursday, September 01, 2005

Article of Interest

Hat tip to my pal Sahbra for the following about the Jewish community -- in regards to Katrina.

The 12,000 Jews of New Orleans
By Hillel Fendel

The Jewish community throughout southern the United States, and elsewhere as well, has awoken to the plight of their co-religionists affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, for instance, has established an emergency fund, and has already sent $100,000 to the Gulf Coast to support victims. The umbrella United Jewish Communities (UJC) has established a fund to aid victims in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, the Western Florida panhandle and other affected areas. Other Jewish groups that have established or opened relief funds for Katrina victims are the Union for Reform Judaism ("www.urj.org"), B’nai B’rith ("www.bnaibrith.org") and Chabad-Lubavitch of Louisiana ("www.chabadneworleans.com").

In addition to sending money, however, many Jewish households in the area have opened their doors to the refugees streaming out of New Orleans and other areas. Many of the 10-12,000 Jews of New Orleans came to Houston, where most of them appear to have family. "The Chabad of Houston community has thrown open its doors widely," wrote one displaced Louisiana Jew. "The Chabad staff here has been inundated with calls and emails offering to host people and give food."

Adam Bronstone, community relations director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, himself settled into temporary quarters at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston on Tuesday. Nearly 150 New Orleans refugees have taken shelter in a Jewish camp - Henry S. Jacobs Camp - in Utica, Mississippi.

Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin, who serves as Chabad Director in New Orleans' Tulane University, found refuge with his family at the the Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Center in Gainesville, Florida. He has established a type of command post there, helping other refugees communicate with relatives and find relief centers.

The New Orleans Chabad chapter is continuing its efforts on behalf of the local Jewish community via the internet. It explains the immediate needs in a terse paragraph:

"At present, the people of the New Orleans Metro area are uprooted from their homes and communities. Evacuees may be without permanent homes for a month or more. Homes, businesses and lives have been destroyed by this storm. For the next several weeks, Chabad is ready to provide assistance using its network of centers throughout the region. Chabad representatives are able to assist with food, finding housing, and providing spiritual and emotional comfort. We urge evacuees to turn to the local Chabad centers for assistance" - including those in Houston, Austin, Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Birmingham, Tallahassee, and Atlanta.

Just before the storm hit, worshipers in New Orleans synagogues moved Torah scrolls out of what they thought was harm's way - but they have no way of knowing yet whether their efforts were not in vain.

Congregation Beth Israel in another hard-hit city, Biloxi, Miss., is located two blocks from the beach, in an area reportedly hit by 12 feet of water. No word has yet been received as to how the synagogue fared, but many buildings in the area were destroyed. Concern has also been expressed about Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, said to be the oldest Jewish house of worship in the U.S. outside of the original 13 colonies.

12 Comments:

At 1:44 AM, Blogger rockmother said...

Thanks for publicising this, Esther!

Couple days ago, a British mother of a daughter missing in NO came on TV to say how happy she was to have heard from her daughter at last. This good lady repeated, quite insistently, that her daughter had been saved by a Jewish missionary couple. She repeated this about three times. Good for her. She made a point of it. The good lady was not herself Jewish.

One question, though: what is a Jewish missionary? Is it just another word for "community worker" or something? Or was the good lady a little confused?

 
At 7:05 AM, Blogger Esther said...

LOL RM. I was going to ask YOU what a Jewish missionary was. My guess is that the woman was confused on her terms but there are enough people who post here who will be able to answer this better than myself. Glad you liked the article!

 
At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Rory said...

To Rockmother

I think perhaps somebody might have been a bit confused because Jewish missionary is almost an oxymoron since Jews don't proselytize to non-Jews. There are some Orthodox Jews who try to get non-practicing Jews to become more religious so perhaps, in a sense, that could be considered missionizing, but Judaism doesn't have conversion of non-Jews as one of its goals. In fact, when a non-Jew does want to convert, it's usually made pretty difficult in order to test the person's resolve. The other possibility is that this couple belonged to a group like Jews for Jesus which, all their denials notwithstanding, would make them Christians, not Jews. But I agree that the fact that the woman made a point of saying her daughter had been saved by Jews shows she probably had very good intentions.

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger rockmother said...

To "come clean" here, I am the wife of a "secular Jew". I am proud of the fact that Jews do not proseletyse. Our daughter is well aware that her heritage is a mixture of Jew-ish and Victorian English "enlightenment". My great-grandfather, George Housman Thomas (Victorian illustrator and brother of the greater (arguably) William Luson Thomas (founder of the social-reforming "Graphic" Newspaper), may (I hope) have been the spouse of the (possibly) Jewish, Ellen Pass.

Main thing is, however, that the folks in N.O. actually get some help.

Right is might!

 
At 8:32 AM, Blogger rockmother said...

One day (when I have the strength after the "Kitchen Project") I will tell you the story of what happened in 1969 when BH (Better Half) and I were interviewed by the Beth Din and they assumed that I was the Jew, and BH (Better Half) wasn't. Frequently cited in subsequent marital disputes! (By me: why should Jews have all the Best Lines?!)

 
At 10:33 PM, Blogger patrickafir said...

I saw this organization's banner at the top of the Jerusalem Post. I was wondering what the heck a Jewish missionary was too, rockmother and esther. haha

 
At 5:56 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Jews traditionally have eschewed new members. It is one of the reasons that a crisis exists now for world-wide Jewry. The global population of Jews is actually declining.

I would risk being called arrogant by stating enequivocally that there is no such thing as a Jewish missionary. Not now, not ever. I think I am something of an authority on the subject, as is any Jew.

That said, I wonder if she was referring to someone belonging to a messianic group, who, as any good Jew knows, are about as Jewish as St. Patrick. No offense, Kafir!!!

 
At 5:21 PM, Anonymous seawitch said...

I'll try to find out the status of both the Beth Israel and Touro. I have previously been in contact with the education director at Touro.

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous seawitch said...

My sister lives only a few blocks from Beth Israel in Biloxi. The synagouge is only a 1/4 mile from the beach. I just spoke with her. She said it was heavily damaged and had been reported in our local newspaper, the Sun Herald. I am hoping to hear from Eileen Hamilton about Touro.

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous seawitch said...

Here is the link for the article about Beth Israel. Sun Herald

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am another Great Grandaughter of George Housman Thomas. His wife Ellen Pass was always reputed to be of Huguenot familly, I have not managed to trace her yet, but there are several generations of De Passe and Passe who are engravers (back to 17th Century) which could make sense. George was a marvellous draughtsman with a lively and delightful line, I have a number of sketchbook pages, etc. Do you have any of the work? William founded the
Graphic and was an engraver- difficult to compare as creativity is from different fields.
I dont understand this blog business so how do we get in touch?
Ann
Anndingsdale@aol.com

 
At 12:43 PM, Anonymous tjaparker@hotmail.com said...

I am a gt gt grandson of GH Thomas 1824-1868 and his wife Ellen Pass mentioned in rockmother's blog.My side of the family called her surname de Pass.My mother thought the de Pass family were of Sephardi Jewish origin.They were supposed to be Bankers.I would be very interested to have this confirmed as I think this is where the intellectual streak in Ellen's descendants comes from!tjaparker@hotmail.com.I can add that the first Jewish person to win the Victoria Cross was a man by the name of de Pass in WW1

 

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