The “From the Desk Of” series is my regular email to the Valley Torah High School community.
In a very short week lots has happened. Along with all the amazing teaching and learning that occurred, the drone club has almost completed their quadcopter builds, Sci-Tech students presented their projects in school, the debate team hosted the Spring Jewish Congress (congratulations to Mr. Benji Halprin for placing third in the competition!) and we administered SAT-10’s. However, while my weekly communication is always focused on what happens in our school community, my mind is on another community that I used to call home.
This week Houston, Texas was devastated with torrential downpours causing massive flooding throughout the city. I quickly found out this was occurring as I watched Facebook status updates and pictures of flooding streets and homes from friends and families I used to see daily at school and in the community I lived in for three years. The next morning after a long night of hoping the rain would end pictures appeared of my friends homes with four feet of water in them, furniture floating in living rooms, roads washed out and cars submerged in the street. Pictures of shuls I used to daven in were posted with black water hiding the legs of its chairs and the bima platform submerged. The next day as the water receded the destruction became even more transparent as news of deaths, missing people and millions of dollars of destruction were reported. What also became transparent is why I have always missed the Houston Jewish community. It is a community that is always there for each other.
As light shined the morning after the flooding, I was amazed (but not surprised) by the acts of kindness in the different Houston Jewish communities being reported. First, community members left their safe homes to rescue others. Some on foot and come in canoes.
Then the community focused on those who were left without electricity, food, clothing and more. This “I want to help” form was quickly created for people to sign up to help. I saw one post about a family who needed clothes and within a few minutes they had more clothes than needed. People donated food and hundreds of meals were being made at the local shuls. Emails were sent out to organize the baking of Challahs and meals for Shabbos. People whose homes were dry opened their homes to those whose homes were not. I saw one post that said there are 70 washing machines ready for anyone who needs to wash and dry their clothes. Replacement games for children were made available. One local Jewish school gave students the option to not take finals if they help out flood victims during finals week. I am also sure this only scratches the surface of the kindness that is truly happening.
My family and I had the misfortune of moving to Houston a couple months before Hurricane IKE landed at our doorstep. We had minor flooding, damage to our home and friends homes and loss of power for a couple of weeks. However, I also had the fortune of experiencing first hand how the Houston Jewish community takes care of each other and their non-Jewish neighbors (so many families in the Jewish community gave power and food to their non-Jewish neighbors) in a crisis. I would have preferred to not have experienced the destruction of IKE and would have never wished this recent flooding on anyone, yet, my memories of the hurricane were quickly replaced by the memories of great acts of kindness, strength of a community and warmth of a people. I hope the same will happen to those impacted by this flood.
Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters in Houston. If you would like to help, the community needs funds to rebuild. Here is a link to the Jewish Federation if you would like to donate to help those impacted. Click here.
Here is drone flight that shows the flooding on a street I drove almost daily.