From December 17-22, 2006, Rabbi Prinz and Rabbi Hurvitz will be schlepping their sleeping bags, work boots and gloves to volunteer in the much needed clean up after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. During this vacation period, they will join the work of Nechama (“comfort” in Hebrew), the Jewish community's disaster response organization. Based in Minneapolis, since 1993 they have deployed hundreds of volunteers to help communities clean-up after floods, tornados, and other natural disasters. Their mission is based on the Jewish value of ‘Tikkun Olam’ -- repairing the world through acts of goodness.
Although Nechama is a Jewish-based volunteer organization, it offers help to all people regardless of religious affiliation or class. They generally serve the most vulnerable during natural disaster events: the elderly, the poor, single parents, and people with disabilities or other health problems. All of these groups usually find it difficult to cope both physically and mentally with beginning to clean-up from natural disasters. Nechama offers its services free of charge and does not solicit donations from persons helped. Nechama works closely with organizations such as the Federal Management Relief Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army.
Chanukkah is the Jewish holiday of rededication and the festival of lights.
As in the final words of Debbie Friedman’s song (I Am a Latke):
It's so important that we all remember
That, while we have most of the things we need,
We must remember those who have so little,
We must help them, we must be the ones to feed
And so, we dedicate our time this Chanukkah to help rebuild New Orleans.
Please do not forget the people of New Orleans (the population of which is still (as of this writing) no more than 41% of its pre-hurricane number) and all those who suffered from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Support the efforts of Nechama and other organizations that work to alleviate their suffering.
When we returned Sandi Dolbee of the San Diego Union Tribune wrote about our efforts in her Everyday Ethics column “Gulf still needs lots of ‘sweat equity’”.