After the Storm

 

A Message from Arlene Miller, President & CEO
 

After months and months of waiting, we finally got some much-needed rain in March. Rain is so welcome here in Southern California, that if you’ve never lived anywhere else, it’s hard to even fathom living with the fear of flooding. But when I visited Houston a few weeks ago, it was a stark reminder that the flood devastation from last August is still foremost in people’s minds. Especially in the minds of the Jewish community.

One of my colleagues put it in a way I hadn’t really thought about: Imagine your living room being at the bottom of a 12-foot deep swimming pool. A dirty, contaminated swimming pool. That’s what over 70% of the Jewish population living in Houston has had to cope with. The Jewish Community Center was flooded, three synagogues, a senior care center… and more than 2,000 Jewish households were affected. By the time the rain stopped, many had lost everything. It’s almost unimaginable.

But there is a devastating cost to the flood that we aren’t able to calculate in dollars, and that is the toll it has taken on Jewish life in Houston. With so much of their energy devoted to keeping a roof over their heads, getting food on the table, and managing everything else, they just don’t have the financial resources to participate in Jewish life. When I was in Houston, I learned that of all the families that applied for financial aid for the upcoming Jewish summer camp season, NONE were flood victims—that expense isn’t even on their radar. That’s a lot of children who won’t be going to camp this year.

There are many other stories like this that tell a grim tale—Houston is on the brink of losing a generation of Jews. It is such a fragile situation young families are facing when they have to make choices between living expenses and whether to participate in Jewish life. They can no longer send their children to preschool, day school, summer camp. Kosher food is a luxury, as is a kosher for Passover kitchen.

But we can continue to help them. The sooner they get back to living a life that is somewhat close to normal, the sooner they can get back to living a life where they don’t have to choose between basic social services and a Jewish social life.

The worldwide Jewish community has come to the aid of Houston in an amazing way, and lives are being rebuilt. Homes are drying out. People are finding shelter. We have it in our power to help our brothers and sisters in Houston continue to repair their community and get back to normal.

Jewish Federation & Family Services has disaster funds available and will match every dollar donated to rebuild Houston—up to $9,000—adding to the more than $40,000 Orange County has already contributed to the relief efforts. With your help, there is hope in Houston. There is a rainbow after the storm.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,

AM Signature

Arlene Miller

 

 


 

Jewish Federation & Family ServicesMission Statement: We care for people in need and strengthen Jewish community in Orange County, Israel, and around the world.