Hurricane Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy, Queens College opened up the Fitzgerald Gym as an evacuation center. Rabbi Wertheimer visited there to offer his assistance for any residents that needed pastoral care. While there, he met numerous Jewish volunteers and government workers. One of them asked Rabbi Wertheimer for a special favor: “Can you provide me with some hot potato kugel for Friday night?” Rabbi Wertheimer sent a hot potato kugel, special delivery to this dedicated worker from Minneapolis.

Arnold, an elderly evacuee, told the Rabbi that he needed to say Kaddish for his mother. The Rabbi helped him calculate the exact date of the yahrtzeit, and then, in conjunction with Uri Cohen, Executive Director of the Hillel, coordinated a student minyan on Friday, November 9th. Additionally, Chabad & Hillel joined together to deliver “Shabbat Packages” containing grape juice and challah to Jewish evacuees.

Here is something written by the Rabbi, about other Chabad activites after the Hurricane:

The extent of the devastation is difficult to wrap one’s head around. Yet there are also some stories of light that have emerged from Hurricane Sandy. Here are two of them:

On Sunday, I was fortunate enough to coordinate and accompany a group of Queens College students, alumni and a professor to the hard-hit areas of Long Beach and Oceanside. We drove down there in two vehicles — using what is now no-less-than-precious gasoline, with fuel lines in some areas of New York City still exceeding a few hours — to aid in the relief efforts. We brought food (thanks to Mayer Gold at Seasons Supermarket for donating self-heating meals and sandwich supplies), flashlights, batteries, and work gloves and shovels for our work.

One of the students who volunteered, Alyssa, is from Long Beach.

We drove through the debris-strewn streets, arriving at her home. Her parents greeted us with smiles on their faces. Sand from the beach was everywhere in the street. We assisted them in removing a fridge, carpet and other water-soaked items from their ground-level floor. The car in the driveway had been filled with sea water and was now ruined.

The Chabad rabbi in Long Beach, Eli Goodman, lives a few blocks away, right next to what used to be the boardwalk. A foot or more of sand fills his entire apartment; everything inside is ruined. No, I am not exaggerating.

In a certain sense, morale was low, yet the prevailing feeling was not one of despair, but of resolution to move forward despite the challenge.

I returned the next day with a QC student, Shachar, and a recent alum, Abe. We went door-to-door in homes in Oceanside, delivering free, hot soup and pasta.

These students, alumni and my friend Prof. Tim Rosen demonstrated the adage of our sages that, “The main thing is action.”