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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Far Rockaway’

From Baltimore to Bayswater With Kindness!

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

The Baltimore Jewish Community and The Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater Present a ‘Welcome Home!’ Carnival Extravaganza on Sunday, November 25th.

From The Chesed Fund — Nov. 19, 2012

Baltimore’s The Chesed Fund/Project Ezra and Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater will be presenting an exciting free children’s carnival on Sunday, November 25th. The Young Israel is led by Rabbi Eliezer Feuer, who has continually provided comfort to his congregants throughout the Superstorm ordeal. Accomplished community organizer Mrs. Marla Lewis of The Chesed Fund will direct the event.

Frank Storch, founder of The Chesed Fund, reflected, “We worked closely with the Bayswater community after Hurricane Sandy devastated them. We transported emergency generators, gas cans, and lanterns. But now, this fantastic community, especially the children, need a break. We intend to bring them some good, cheerful fun!” Toys, games, prizes, entertainment, and delicious food will be brought in to delight the children.

The ‘Welcome Home!’ Carnival promises to be a wonderful opportunity for parents to spend quality, relaxed time with their kids – an experience that has been in short supply since Hurricane Sandy hit their town in Far Rockaway, New York. There will be jugglers, magicians, clowns, face painting, a moon bounce, and live music. Kids will nosh on popcorn, hot dogs, hot pretzels, and cotton candy. It will truly be a day to treasure.

Rabbi Feuer added, “On behalf of my community of Bayswater and Far Rockaway, I want to thank Frank Storch and his family and the Baltimore Jewish community for caring about us and reaching out to us in New York. This is a great opportunity for our community to have a fresh start.”

A bus full of Bais Yaakov and Bnos Yisroel school girls will travel from Baltimore to help run the carnival. Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim Talmudical Academy of Baltimore Middle School is collecting Chanukah gifts for the children. Talmudical Academy staff will also be traveling to Far Rockaway to assist with the Carnival.

Dougie’s BBQ & Grill of Pikesville will be sending kosher meals on the bus for the volunteers and Goldberg’s New York Kosher Bagels of Pikesville will be providing them breakfast on their way. Jonathan Ely of Traveling Tykes of Lakewood, NJ and Jonathan Glass of NYFF Events are generously supplying the Carnival booths, food, and other enchanting Carnival attractions.

The Free ‘Welcome Home’ Carnival is a celebration open to the community, many of whom have been affected in one way or another. Rabbi Feuer stated, “For the most part, our power is back on; we have food and gas again.” He continued,” Now, we’re in rebuilding mode and we’re full speed ahead with crews on the ground. At least 75 families in our community are still displaced. We want to see them fully restored and we want to replace the belongings they’ve lost. It’s a monumental task but the care and kindness shown to us makes us even stronger.”

The Chesed Fund has yet more plans for Bayswater; they will soon be bringing engineers to the Bayswater community to assess the rebuilding needs. Also on the agenda this week is a donation of a 4-wheel drive, 15 passenger van by Baltimore Shomrim, and Frank and Danielle Storch. Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater will be able to use it for their community transportation and safety and security needs. Shomrim leaders Ronnie Rosenbluth and Danny Harris headed up this noteworthy project.

Storch added with a touch of humor, “We will continue to pull together to make some magic happen. The free Carnival is a day for the Bayswater kids to shine. I’m also proud of our Baltimore students, who have been so eager to be involved in this chesed.”

The ‘Welcome Home’ Free Carnival will take place from 11am-4pm, this Sunday, Nov. 25th, at Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater, 2716 Healy Ave., Bayswater, NY 11691.

To make a donation toward their relief efforts, please make check payable and mail to Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater, with notation of Relief Efforts.

Media Contact: Davida Braunstein davida770@yahoo.com

Carnival Contact: Marla Lewis 443-604-1462 or marla.lewis@comcast.net

The Chesed of Satmar and of the American People

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

There’s a story on a website called Behadrey Haredim (in the rooms of Charedim). This Hebrew language – Israeli based website is now available in English. It tells of how Satmar Chasidim, at the behest of their Rebbe have pulled out all the stops to help fellow Jews in neighborhoods such as Far Rockaway and Bayswater that were suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
It is quite in character for Satmar to help fellow Jews in need. They are well known for their Chesed towards their fellow Jew. One may recall that their Bikur Cholim Society is internationally recognized for just that. Chesed. They visit sick Jews in hospitals and provide for more than their needs regardless of how religious they are. It doesn’t matter if a patient is a Satmar Chasid or not. If you are in the hospital and a Jew they are there to help you. In spades!

So this story is not all that remarkable. They are simply living up to their reputations as Baalei Chesed.

But it occurred to me that what they are doing is already being done in spades. Not by Satmar Chasidim but by the good people of New York City – Jew and non-Jew alike – to all people in need, not just their co-religionists.

This too is in character. Of the American people who comprise this Medinah Shel Chesed. There has been story after story of people helping people in need during this crisis.

Two examples come to mind.

One is about how many of runners who were scheduled to run in the NYC marathon used that time to distribute supplies originally reserved for the runners.

Then there was the story of a gas station owner who stayed open despite the fact that electric power was cut off and his gas pumps weren’t working. He somehow found a hand pump and started pumping gas manually to anyone who came to his gas station. And he did not charge them an extra dime for the gas. There have been hundreds of stories of people helping people without expecting anything in return but out of the goodness of their own heart. All of it non discriminatory. None of it selective – based on what religion you are.

So when I hear about how caring the Satmar community is for their fellow Jews and how much they are doing, I feel it is imperative to note that they are not alone. Nor is it uniquely Jewish. Non-Jews are doing it too. Only they are doing it more inclusively than Satmar.

This is not to take away from the great work Satmar is doing. It is only to praise the even greater work is being done by the good people of this great country. To that end I would also note that MASBIA a soup kitchen in Boro Park founded by Chasidim is extending their hand to all in need – Jews and non Jews alike. That is what I like to see. A real Kiddush HaShem.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

I Don’t Buy It

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

There are a lot of newspaper advice columns out there. But what makes this one different is that sometimes, you don’t want to ask an expert. Sometimes you want to ask a regular guy who might not actually know more than you.

If you ask an expert, he’s going to give you real advice, and you have to follow it. But if you ask me, you can feel free to say that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and then go do your own thing. Like if you ask, “Who’s right, me or my wife?” and I say that your wife is right, you can say, “Well, I’m still gonna go with me.”

People don’t write to me for advice, they write to me for justification.

Dear Mordechai,

If I stand when I eat, do I get fat feet?

S.S., Brooklyn

Dear S.,

I don’t know if this is scientifically accurate. They really should conduct a study. I say this because I’ve seen a lot of people standing when they eat, especially at a kiddush, but I’ve never actually seen anyone with fat feet. It’s not really something you can hide with baggy clothes.

The logic behind the saying, I guess, is gravity. When you eat something, it goes all the way down to your feet, right? You learn that in biology. But I’ve got to tell you: If you sit when you eat, the food doesn’t go down and just stop at… Oh, actually it does. I see what you’re saying now. There really is no good position for eating.

But I’ll tell you this: Sitting when you eat is a good practice to get into. If you have to sit down with a plate every time you eat, you’ll gain less weight, because you’ll eat less often. It’s kind of like the Sukkos diet, where every time you want to eat, you have to put something on, go outside, roll up a tarp, sit down, and then get up and come back in for silverware. And then a drink. And then a cup. For goodness sakes.

Dear Mordechai,

My daughter brings home arts and crafts every day, and that’s great. I make a huge deal about it and I hang it up on the fridge. But it’s every single day. Should I get a bigger fridge?

S.S., Far Rockaway

Dear S.,

I don’t see how you really have any other choice. What are you going to do, hurt her feelings?

It doesn’t help either that these kids don’t make nearly enough magnets in school. For every twenty things they make that have to be hung up with magnets, they make maybe one magnet. And to be honest, it’s not a very sticky magnet.

And then the question is: How long do you have to wait before taking it down? If you take it down too soon, the kid gets insulted. If you take it down too late, the kid gets embarrassed.

See, that’s the good thing about Sukkos — all those projects could go up in the sukkah, and then a week later, you get to take it down. Or, if you’re not particularly good at hanging things, you get to watch them blow away. Either way, you don’t have to insult anyone.

I have the same issue with my daughter, especially in the summer. Arts and crafts are fun to put together, but I don’t have fun figuring out where to put it. It’s kind of like how some people enjoy shopping, but then they come home with a bunch of stuff, and where are we going to put it? We don’t have nearly enough magnets. I say that you can enjoy shopping, but every few days, you should bring it all back. The shopping part is done. Do you love finding places for things too? It’s like when your kid plays a game, and you make him clean it up. He doesn’t love cleaning, but he loves playing a game. This is part of it.

Dear Mordechai,

What should I do about telemarketers?

P.H.R., Philly

Dear P.,

Hang up. They can’t really stop you, can they? I find that the easiest way to hang up is to do it during one of your own sentences. That way, they think there’s no way you actually hung up on yourself.

The Magic Of Camp Mishkon

Friday, March 30th, 2012

When is a concert not just a concert? When it’s a Mishkon concert, of course! Unlike any regular concert, when a band comes to Mishkon the campers are the stars. At a regular concert, everyone sits in the dark on cushioned seats. Not in Mishkon! Here the preferred seating for every child is high up on the shoulders of a counselor. Every second is filled with upbeat music and no one is excluded. Bound to a wheelchair? Not a problem; everyone forms a circle around campers who can’t dance, actively bringing them into the fun.

This is just some of the magic that lasts for six weeks every summer at Camp Mishkon, an overnight camp for children with special needs under the auspices of JBFCS. Counselors and other staff members work tirelessly to form bonds with their campers, bonds that last far beyond July and August. Many staff members invite their campers for to join them for a Shabbos and or even a Yom Tov. Then for one glorious Shabbos in the winter, the wonder of camp is relived at the Mishkon Shabbaton.

This year the shabbaton was held in February at the Raleigh Hotel. It was a great experience for all involved. Campers and counselors alike were excited to be together again. Families received a respite, and even while they missed their beloved children, they knew they are in safe hands. Every need, from special diets, to medical needs, to bedding arraignments was taken care of.

There is a saying that every child is a whole world. Nowhere is that more true than in Mishkon. Every single camper is given a chance to shine in his or her own special way. They each have individual attention that is impossible to get in the busy world, even from the most loving homes. But with a one-to-one ratio of campers to counselors, every camper is a complete, unique world, in the center of a wonderful universe of doting staff members.

To top off the amazing Shabbos, we were treated to one of Mishkon’s famous concerts. The vibes generating from the ballroom at the Raleigh left everyone, campers and counselors alike, charged up for the rest of the year until summer comes around again. When is a concert not just a concert? When it exists solely to fill up the world of one special child with love. One special child, and another, and another. When is a concert not just a concert? When it’s a Mishkon concert.

Shayna Goldstein is a staff member at Camp Mishkon and an eleventh grade student at TAG High School in Far Rockaway, NY.

Clean Jokes

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Welcome back to “You’re Asking Me?” where we answer questions sent in by confused readers who thought they were writing in to Dr. Yael. That said, I’d like to thank all the readers who wrote in. I’m going to attempt to address your questions, not so much because I know the answers, but more so that I have an excuse to get out of cleaning for Pesach.

Dear Mordechai,

I find that I’m very overwhelmed by Pesach cleaning. Do you have any suggestions?

Nervous in New Jersey

Dear Nervous,

What on Earth were you thinking buying the biggest house you could afford? My advice is to not think of it as cleaning the entire house – on a deadline. I say that you should start, a couple of months before Pesach, with something small and manageable, like a single drawer. Take everything out, make piles, scrub down the drawer, and then put everything back in so it’s parallel. Then move on to the next drawer. If you keep doing that, little by little, eventually you’ll realize that you’ve been cleaning for six weeks and you’re still on the same set of drawers, and you have yet to come across something that is actually chometz, or even food for that matter, and you have no idea what you were thinking starting with your pajama drawers, because how often do you change your pajamas?

So you pick up the pace, dumping out entire drawers, throwing out visible food, shoving everything back in, and promising that you’ll get back to them after Pesach. Which you will not, because if you ever had a chance to clean out entire drawers when you didn’t have to, you’d also have a chance to put things away properly to being with, rather than shoving them into the drawer and hoping they’ll find their way the right part of the drawer by themselves. And before you know it, it will be Pesach again.

But my point is that in the end, you’ll come into Pesach panting and sweating and realizing that amid all that fury of dumping and shoving, you didn’t have time to be overwhelmed.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I’m flying to my in-laws for Yom Tov, and I’d like to bring along some food for the Seder. Is there anything I can bring along that will make it through airport security?

Pat Down, JFK

Dear Pat,

Not really. A bottle of wine has too much liquid, matzah will be confiscated as a sharp weapon, and we don’t even want to think about what they’ll do to you if they find marror. Potatoes, maybe? Last year I ran into someone at the post office putting some stamps on a box of round matzah. Though I doubt it was still round when it got to where it was going.

 

Dear Mordechai,

I’m making Pesach this year, due to an incident last year when my in-laws, who don’t eat gebrukts, received a box in the mail on the first day of Pesach containing what was basically matzah meal. Anyway, this is our first time making Pesach, and I’d like to know what I’m getting myself into. What would you say is the most annoying part of making Pesach?

T.S., Monsey

Dear T.,

Honestly? I like that my house actually gets cleaned once a year, and I like that I’m forced to make foods that are out of my comfort zone.

What’s annoying is the part before Pesach where half your house is chometzdik and half your house is Pesachdik. You’re cooking in the dining room or eating out of a random room in the basement, you can’t bring Pesach stuff into this room, you can’t bring chometz into that room, you need to be on your guard the entire month to remind your kids about where they can and can’t bring food, they have more cookies to eat than ever before but there’s nowhere they can actually eat them, and your entire kitchen is Pesachdik except a couple of shelves in the fridge, so you have to take foods out of the fridge and move them around without putting them down anywhere. You spend all day cleaning for Pesach, but have to break in middle to figure out which chometz to serve the kids for supper, such as a random “this is what we found in the freezer” supper that consists of two hot dogs, three chicken wings, three types of French fries and a frozen bag of what was probably once soup. Should we have noodles? We’d have to make them on the travel range, and then strain them off the edge of the back porch without dropping any in the backyard, because the colander is too big to wash in the bathroom sink, which is where we’re doing all our dishes for the week. Sometimes we have to wait in the hall with a pile of dishes because someone is in there. Why on earth did we buy so many noodles?

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Chabad’s Mission

I applaud you for carrying the picture of the children of the Chabad shluchim on your front page last week. It is a testament to the ongoing mission of Chabad-Lubavitch to bring Torah and Yiddishkeit to Jews spread across the globe. There is no equal in Judaism. It was particularly poignant as it roughly coincided with the yahrzeit of the Mumbai korbanos.

Yisroel Farkash
(Via E-Mail)

 

Mideast Chaos

As The Jewish Press reported on its front page last week, regional turmoil in the Middle East is causing Israel to reevaluate its security strategies that developed when Arab governments were headed by those who valued stability and friendship with the U.S.

What I cannot fathom is how the Obama administration seems to think that Israel should negotiate in the midst of this chaos, especially given the uncertainty as to which factions will end up in control in the various countries.

Miriam Silverman
New York, NY

 

Moved By Tribute

I was moved by Naomi Klass Mauer’s heartfelt tribute to her late husband, Dr. Ivan Mauer (“Everything I Dreamed of in a Husband,” op-ed, Dec.2). He seems to have been a wonderful human being and the kind of soulmate everyone seeks in life but doesn’t always find.

Etty Smadja
(Via E-Mail)

 

Israel And PA Funds

Re “Israel’s Economic Sanctions” (editorial, Dec. 2):

The Jewish Press got it exactly right last week. Israel’s withholding Palestinian funds in response to Palestinian policies is no different from the sanctions imposed on Iran over disagreements with its policies. Not only are there growing restrictions on Iran’s regular trading with other countries, but Iranian assets are being frozen in the U.S. and Europe.

Too bad Netanyahu gave in. Once again his word proved tougher than his actions.

Richard Glasser
Dayton, OH

 

Glossing Over The GOP Field?

As someone who takes the political process seriously, and who did not vote for Barack Obama last time, I found Rabbi Steven Pruzansky’s Dec. 2 front-page essay (“Presidential Racing Form”) quite disappointing.

The rabbi starts out by dismissing Obama supporters as “blacks, committed liberals, union members, and recipients of public handouts,” strongly implying that  anyone voting for Obama (who won 53 percent of the vote in 2008) must be someone who just isn’t thinking and simply has a vested interest.

Apparently, wealthy individuals and corporations who are paying much less in taxes than they should, and Christian evangelicals who don’t even agree to a legal abortion in the case of saving a woman’s life, are somehow voters who do think.

Worse, the rabbi glosses over the startling inadequacies of some of the Republican candidates.

We as Jews, especially observant Jews, should do better.

Yosef Tannenbaum
(Via E-Mail)

 

 

Torah And Science

Talmudic Sages Were Not Scientifically Infallible

Reader Dr. Yaakov Stern writes that one who believes the Talmud erred in scientific matters is a heretic (Letters, Dec. 2). Dr. Stern’s position flies in the face of the facts. The Sages were frequently wrong regarding science; moreover, these mistakes are reflected in halacha.

We need look no further than the small change made in our prayers starting Monday, December 5, when Jews outside of Israel began saying “v’sain tal u’matar” in Shemoneh Esrei. According to Jewish law, this change commences 60 days after tekufas Tishrei, the autumnal equinox. Simple math demonstrates that whereas the equinox occurred on September 23, we should have begun saying v’sain tal umatar 60 days later, approximately November 23. Yet we wait until the first week of December, because the calendar used to calculate the equinox, devised by the Talmudic sage Shmuel, errs in its calculation of the solar year.

Similarly, the time for recitation of the Blessing of the Sun (every 28 years), which is supposed to coincide with the moment the sun was first placed in position, is based on Shmuel’s calendar and hence cannot possibly be accurate.

Among other scientific miscues, the Sages of the Talmud held the world to be flat. (This is of course not stated in the Talmud, since the Sages never considered the possibility that the world is spherical.) The halachic consequences are significant; perhaps the most glaring issue is the location of the International Dateline. The Talmud nowhere discusses a dateline, despite the fact that its placement affects the day that Shabbos is kept around the world. In a flat world, time is the same everywhere, and there is no dateline.

The Talmudic Sages believed in spontaneous generation. This too has ramifications, most famously in the law that one may kill lice on Shabbos because lice generate spontaneously. Writing in the eighteenth century, Rav Yitzchak Lampronti, in his Pachad Yitzchak, declares that whereas scientists had determined conclusively that no life is spontaneously generated, one should not kill lice on Shabbos. Does Dr. Stern reckon the Pachad Yitzchak a heretic?

Coping With Irene’s Wrath: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011


As Hurricane Irene barreled toward New York late last week, city officials, still smarting over what critics called a tentative response to the great blizzard of 2010, acted proactively, shutting down mass transit and ordering a mandatory evacuation in zones expected to be directly in the path of the massive storm.


The mandatory evacuation order, which covered Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, Seagate, the Rockaways and parts of Staten Island, was issued Friday afternoon, with people told to leave their homes by 5 p.m. the next day. While that gave residents more than 24 hours to make their preparations, thousands of Orthodox Jews living in the designated areas as well as in neighboring parts of Nassau County, including the Five Towns and Long Beach, had just hours until the onset of the Sabbath. They all wrestled with the same question: Where to spend Shabbos?


Phone calls, text messages, e-mails and posts on Jewish news sites were used to circulate information, including a steady stream of evacuation updates and halachic guidelines for which emergency actions were permissible on Shabbos.

 

 


Downed tree in Brooklyn testifies to Irene’s fury.

Hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm

but left penty of damage in its wake.

 

The Orthodox Union issued hurricane guidelines originally produced by Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, advising people to keep yahrzeit candles and flashlights lit over Shabbos and to have a radio on at a low volume in a side room for emergency bulletins. In the event that Irene made landfall on Shabbos, the guidelines urged everyone to daven at home and to assume their eruv was down, but allowed for carrying, preferably in an irregular fashion, in case of medical need, danger to life and limb and for the elderly and small children.


Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Meisels, the Seagate Rav, urged residents of Coney Island and Seagate to leave their homes to avoid potential chillul Shabbos should they be forced to evacuate on Saturday, and the Agudath Israel of Bayswater sent an e-mail at 4:38 Friday afternoon informing area residents of Zone B, which included Far Rockaway, Bayswater and Belle Harbor, that if they had a place to go for Shabbos they were halachically required to leave the area.


Several shelters were opened to accommodate those who needed food and lodging for Shabbos, including in Yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv in Far Rockaway and in Young Israel of Bayswater.


Achiezer, a Far Rockaway-based community resource center, offered placement for families in both West Hempstead and at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Kew Gardens Hills.

 

 


 


Water reached almost five feet high at the

Sun Circle Bungalow Colony in South Fallsburg, N.Y.

 

Some sought temporary shelter with friends or relatives. Others were steadfast in their decision to stay home. Many found they simply did not have enough time to pack up and leave before Shabbos and were left wondering if they would be forcibly removed from their homes once the evacuation deadline passed.


As it turned out, Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it arrived in New York. So for most area residents, the much ballyhooed monster hurricane was at worst a soggy inconvenience. But in at least three cases in the Jewish community, the hurricane left tragic consequences in its wake.


David Reichenberg, a 50-year-old Orthodox Jewish father of four from Spring Valley, died saving a father and his 6-year-old son from a downed power line. Reichenberg came into contact with the live wire and was electrocuted.


Reichenberg had stopped to help the boy and his father who were viewing damage outside their home in Rockland County. The boy had touched a metal fence electrified by a fallen wire. Reichenberg pulled the two from the fence, but could not escape himself, witness Moishe Lichtenstein told the New York Daily News.


“When I got there the victim was on the ground and he was touching the wire, which was in the water,” Lichtenstein said. “When emergency officials got there, they couldn’t touch him. We were standing there for like five or 10 minutes. We were just praying, ‘God help this man.’ “


In an interview with JTA, a longtime friend of Reichenberg, Rabbi Avrohom Braun, described the deceased as an “upbeat person with unshakable faith.” Rabbi Braun is director of admissions and education at Ohr Somayach yeshiva, which Reichenberg attended 25 years ago. Every morning, Reichenberg, who ran a sign-making shop, would attend 6 a.m. classes before opening his store, Rabbi Braun said. He also said Reichenberg regularly volunteered to help coordinate Shabbos meals for impoverished families in Rockland County, which has a large population of Orthodox Jews.


Michael Kenwood, 39, also died while attempting to help others. A volunteer first aid worker from Princeton, N.J., Kenwood was checking a submerged car that rescuers thought was occupied when he became untethered and slipped. Kenwood was swept away by the current and later was pulled unconscious from the waters.


Rozalia Gluck, a Holocaust survivor originally from Russia, died after she was trapped in a Catskills motel that was swept away by flood waters during the storm. She was 82.


In all, as of Tuesday afternoon some 48 deaths had been attributed to Irene.


* * *


Many of those who survived the storm encountered difficulties of their own. Among those who opted to stay home for Shabbos rather than evacuate was Chana, a resident of Bayswater who declined to give her last name. Living on the second floor of a residence located on higher ground, away from the bay, she felt confident she was out of harm’s way. Chana found Shabbos to be rainy but uneventful, though several rabbis told her she should have left the area.


After Shabbos, Chana and her neighbor heard news reports saying that power might be cut in their area and they decided to spend the night in West Hempstead. By about 9 a.m. Sunday, the house where Chana was staying had no phone, Internet or cable service. Across the street, there was no electricity and two houses had been hit by fallen trees, one of which had been split in half by lightning.


Chana left West Hempstead with her neighbor in the early afternoon; the area looked like a slalom course, with downed trees dotting the roads. Returning to Bayswater, an area that was supposed to be much harder hit by Irene, Chana reports that she saw only two fallen trees.


“I got home and everything was exactly where I had left it,” said Chana. “The garbage cans, the plants, the rosebushes, not a single item had been damaged. Bayswater was supposed to be the dangerous place to be, but it turns out that the place I went to escape Bayswater was hit even harder by Irene. I should have listened to my instincts and just stayed home. I think after Katrina and the big blizzard this year, everyone just panicked.”


Cedarhurst resident Sholom Jacobs had been contemplating going away for Shabbos with his family. Hearing news of the evacuations sealed the deal and the Jacobs family packed up their car and headed north, spending Shabbos in Monsey and Motzaei Shabbos at the Pearl River Hilton, also in Rockland County. Heading back to Cedarhurst, he noted downed trees and some flooded streets. Jacobs was grateful to find everything in his house both dry and in working order, though friends informed him that many people in the low lying areas had water in their basements and numerous homes in Cedarhurst were without power. “I think Monsey and upstate got hit harder than we did,” said Jacobs.


Jacobs said he has no regrets about leaving for Shabbos.


“There is no way to predict exactly where these things will land and what the damage will be. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”


Joseph Horowitz of Lawrence was one of those who stayed home for Shabbos, but found the day very stressful.


“It was so close to Shabbos by the time we were told to leave that we weren’t comfortable leaving,” he said. “With so many people leaving the area and so much traffic, who really had time to get anywhere? Besides, many people stayed because they just didn’t have anywhere to go.”


In Shaaray Tefila, where Horowitz davens, those who stayed behind were clearly on edge. There were regular hurricane updates during the day and a visit from the mayor. Conversation centered around whether or not Maariv would be davened at the earliest possible time so that people could evacuate.


“Shabbos just didn’t feel like Shabbos,” said Horowitz.


While many people evacuated the Five Towns, there were some hardy souls who braved the elements and actually traveled to the evacuation zone for Shabbos.


“My friend was making a bar mitzvah in Cedarhurst,” explained Mindy, who only gave her first name. “We were almost at our destination when we found out about the mandatory evacuation order. We didn’t have enough time to turn around, sit in the traffic that was piling up on Rockaway Turnpike and still make it home in time for Shabbos. My friend came to my son’s wedding in the middle of a blizzard. Was I really going to miss her son’s bar mitzvah for a hurricane?”


Mindy and her husband found Shabbos to be rainy but calm. As Shabbos ended, there were people going around to the various shuls telling people to leave the area, so Mindy and her husband packed up and they drove home. They passed a few flooded streets but made it home in record time.


“Ten minutes after we left Cedarhurst they shut down Rockaway Turnpike,” Mindy said. “By the time we got home both Mayor Bloomberg and the Nassau County executive were telling everyone to just stay where they were. Thankfully we got out at just the right time.”


* * *


While New York City was hit less hard than anticipated, some rural vacation spots were not as lucky.


Menachem Bornstein of Far Rockaway spent last weekend with his wife’s family in Camp Morasha, located in Lake Como, Pennsylvania, where the torrential rains began after midnight on Motzaei Shabbos.

 

 


Workers at Camp Morasha remove a fallen tree from on top of a bunk.

(Photo courtesy of Menachem Bornstein)

 

“While we had a minyan over Shabbos, I had to drive about eight miles for a minyan on Sunday morning,” said Bornstein. “On my way back it was extremely windy with branches falling down, and as I got to the camp there was a huge fallen tree blocking the road. I stopped my car and that was when I began to smell smoke. I turned around and saw that there was smoke behind me – a tree had fallen and hit a power line.”


Bornstein called 911 and managed to get back into the camp by going with a janitor who had appeared on the scene.


By 11 a.m. Sunday the camp had neither water nor electricity. There were twelve fallen trees in the camp, including an extremely large tree that had fallen on Bornstein’s in-laws’ cabin but miraculously did not crash through the roof.


Camp cooks prepared the food by candlelight and large generator-powered floodlights were used in the dining room to provide light for the meals. While water was restored to the camp at 8:30 Sunday night, it took until late Monday afternoon for the electricity to come back on.


Despite the soggy weather, winds and other difficulties, Bornstein said his children had a great time.


(Additional reporting by JTA)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/coping-with-irenes-wrath-new-yorkers-tell-their-stories-2/2011/08/31/

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