A Message from Rabbi Stoller
My cousin wading through waist-deep water to pick up his elderly neighbor so she would not have to endure the storm alone.
Houston, Texas is my hometown.
Since Friday, I, like you, have been watching helplessly as Hurricane Harvey has pounded the city that raised me with a seemingly unending torrent of rain. I am grateful to all of you who have asked about my family. Thank God they are all safe and well, but, as we know, there are so many who are not.
My old neighborhood, Meyerland, where much of Houston’s Jewish community lives, is utterly devastated. Tears came to my eyes when I saw footage of our shopping center and the streets where I learned to drive covered in deep, black water. I’ve been hearing unbelievable stories about people I know and love: our family friends who were rescued by boat from their drowning home; my cousin who waded through waist-deep water to pick up his elderly neighbor so she wouldn’t have to endure the storm alone; a plea for help on Facebook from a high-school classmate who was trapped in her home with a baby, no air conditioning, and no working telephone; my sister-in-law’s 92-year-old grandmother who made her way down 18 flights of stairs without her walker in order to get to safety. Often it is in times like these, times of great suffering and devastation, that humanity’s incredible capacity for courage and kindness is revealed.
I have been in touch with the rabbis of my home synagogue, Congregation Emanu El in Houston, to offer our help. Over the coming days, Temple will be collecting gift cards to Target, Home Depot, and Visa in increments of $10 and sending them to the Emanu El clergy, who will give them out to members of the community in need. You will be able to purchase gift cards at Temple during the days ahead; alternatively, please feel free to purchase gift cards on your own and bring them to Temple. For more information, please contact Judy Zweiback, 402-321-1975) or Rabbi Berezin.
The Torah says, “You shall surely open your hand to your poor and needy brethren in your land” (Deut. 15:11). Today, we have an opportunity to do this mitzvah for a community that really needs our help.
With much gratitude,