web analytics
July 1, 2015 / 14 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Discovering Hope In New Orleans


This summer 17 Yeshiva University students participated in the Center for the Jewish Future’s New Orleans Service Mission. As part of the mission students had the opportunity to engage members of the community ravaged by Hurricane Katrina just five years ago learn about their current challenges and help rebuild.

 

New Orleans is a city of contradictions. Destruction, rebuilding. Desertion, returning. Neglect, attention. Government failure, individual action. Race divide, unity. A grounded city, a place some would believe is better left abandoned. Many of these concepts are hard to reconcile on a brief trip such as the CJF mission we recently completed. Still, there is something gripping about New Orleans, which we were able to discover in merely six days.

 

From the onset of the trip, many of us were unsure of what we would encounter. What we did experience, though, changed our lives forever. Putting faces to the homes, to the numbers, to the flood’s structural and awful devastation, took our understanding of present-day New Orleans to a new level. The personal accounts we heard and the sense of unity and hope we felt from New Orleans residents allowed us to feel motivated to sod a yard in 100-degree heat, paint a house as professionally as our unskilled selves were able, knock down a brick shed and even attempt to climb ladders in order to dry wall a home.

 

We met with the founders of Resurrection after Exoneration, an organization that helps those wrongfully accused and those transitioning out of jail and into society by making sure they have a place to live and teaching them job skills. We also met with Tracey Williams, a powerhouse in the community who is facilitating the rebuilding of the Treme neighborhood. Her colorful and hopeful houses have popped up across the neighborhood.

 

We heard from members of the Jewish community such as Neil Schneider, a representative of the Jewish Federation, to try to understand the implications that Katrina had on the smaller community. The stable Jewish infrastructure allowed the Jewish community to bounce back more quickly than the city at large. Still, the community basically halved; the number of Jews went from 11,000 to 6,000, and the number is only now slowly rising. The Jewish community that was forced to bury seven sacred Torah Scrolls from their completely ruined synagogue is only now able to build a new space of their own.

 

But there is a unique sense of unity in the New Orleans Jewish community; the Orthodox synagogue is currently housed in the Reform Temple because the synagogue was destroyed in the disaster. The time we spent with the members of the shul showed us that they all work very hard to stay true to their values and maintain their community. 

 

From our week in Louisiana, we learned the true danger of “bystander effect” — meaning that most people assume there is always someone else to pick up the pieces or to solve the problem. Most residents of the city believe that Katrina was a man-made disaster. The failure of the levees caused the flooding, not the hurricane itself. Our trip taught us the power of man, the danger of neglect, the importance of hope and our ability to be part of a rebuilding and to make a difference.

           

Rachel Daniels of Lincolnwood, Illinois is a junior at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Discovering Hope In New Orleans”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Donald Trump announces he is running for the Republican party presidential nomination.
Trump Ranks No. 2 GOP Candidate in Nationwide Poll
Latest Sections Stories

Anna Henriques, who hopes to one day head back to Jamaica, says, “Rabbi Raskin must be willing to respect what exists in Jamaica. The way to the future is to gently bring in the traditions of the past and at the same time embrace the idiosyncrasies of the Jamaican people.”

Food-Talk---Eller-logo

The Silver Platter has it all: gorgeous photography, oodles of useful tips and, more importantly, incredible recipes that you will find yourself making again and again.

Emmer-052915-History

It may be that seeking to connect with the past is rooted in the impermanence and impersonality of modern life.

It is very hard to build a healthy marriage when you do not have good role models.

My best book is one that hasn’t been published yet.

We tend to justify and idealize this division with pride attributing these tendencies as demonstrating a higher level of kedushah.

Everyone in the kehilla can get involved, she added, and mothers can network with each other.

On her first ever trip to Israel last week, popular radio talk-show personality and clinical psychologist Dr. Joy Browne, whose spirited broadcasts regularly attract millions of listeners across North America, paid a visit to OneFamily headquarters in Jerusalem in order to learn more about the physical and emotional challenges faced by victims of terror in […]

With the famous Touro Synagogue, a variety of mansions, each with its own distinct personality, as well as the beautiful coast, Rhode Island makes for an excellent vacation spot.

To avoid all this waste and unnecessary anxiety, let’s break the task down step by step and tackle each one at a time.

While there are those who insist they need full-color photos to be truly entranced by a recipe, I suggest you get over that particular requirement because the written word here will draw you in and cause you to salivate as you peruse the recipes scattered throughout The Well-Spiced Life (Israel Book Shop).

For those who couldn’t go off base, a personal parcel was priceless in its ability to convey a feeling of home.

More Articles from Rachel Daniels

This summer 17 Yeshiva University students participated in the Center for the Jewish Future’s New Orleans Service Mission. As part of the mission students had the opportunity to engage members of the community ravaged by Hurricane Katrina just five years ago learn about their current challenges and help rebuild.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/discovering-hope-in-new-orleans/2010/07/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: