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September 7, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 7, 2012
 

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PAGE 26A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 07, 2012 saac (JTA)--Of all the un- knowns being discussed as Hurricane Isaac approached New Orleans, members of Congregation Shir Chadash knew one thing for certain. "Nobody wanted to be the person that said, 'Oh let's not move the Torahs this time,'" said Rabbi Ethan Linden. "We sort of went into our hurricane action mode and did the best we could." One of the iconic photo- graphs of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the region exactly seven years ago, was of men waist deep in flood waters carrying Torahs from Congregation Beth Israel. So prior to what became a Category 1 hurricane and has since been downgraded to Tropical Storm Isaac, members of Shir Chadash moved the scrolls to a higher locationin the building. For- tunately, as waves of rain lashed the area last week, 'the synagogue sustained no damage other than one leaky door in the chapel and a knocked-down playground fence, according to Shir Chadash executive director Sandy Lassen. And unlike tens of thou- sands of other structures in the region, the building still had electrical power. In fact, it w~rs hosting in its freezers the food of the New Orleans Jewish Day School~all while preparing for a bar mitzvah last Shabbat. For its part, the caterer for the event, Kosher Cajun New York Deli, lost power and closed down. "We have enough food here that I'll cover with lox and bagels," Lassen told JTA. Isaac pummeled the region withwinds up to 80 miles per hour and drove walls of water up to 11 feet high inland. On Aug. 29, 2005, the relentless rain of Katrina, by then a Category 3 hurricane; led to the breaching of levees in the New Orleans, flooding it and destroying swaths of neigh- borhoods. In the years since the storm, $14.5 billion has been put into a new system of levees, walls, pumping sta- tions and flood gates, almost all of which seem to have performed well in recent days. "I've been checking and so far there's no significant damage and we haven't heard of any people .who have any- thing untoward going on," said Michael Weil, executive director of the Jewish Federa- tion of Greater New Orleans. "I peek out the window and the sun is shining with some clouds, but we're expecting more rain." In an email he sent to com- munity members on Aug. 29, Weil wrote, "I think that the worst is over and now it's just rain, lots of rain and more rain. By all accounts this massive 300-mile wide and deep storm is crawling its way up Louisiana. I think Isaac likes us more than we like him, and he wants to stay." Jewish agencies remained closed Aug. 29 and Aug. 30. Weil emailed a list of emer- gency numbers and an emer- gency email address: emer- gency@jewishota.com. The federation voice mail will be t~pdated with community information as needed, he said. "You are not alone," he wrote in his email. Alan Smason, editor of ~he local Jewish paper, the Crescent City Jewish News, said that like most people he was relieved when the winds began dying down the morn- ing of Aug. 30. "A few'pieces Of the soffit flew off my.house, andwhen- ever there's a major storm I have some problems with my downstairs," he said. "Sur- prisingly, we did not hav~ any majoi" flooding in my area." He spent that morning touring the suburb of Me- tairie, what he called "the Jewish corridor," and said he saw little damage to Jew- ish institutions. He did see the sign of Beth Israel--the only synagogue irreparably damaged by Katrina and which dedicated its new building on Aug, 26-=barely attached to the sign frame, so he reattached it, he said. The evening of Aug. 31 marked the last time this season that the community's three Reform congregations would worship together--a summertime tradition. Last week's host, Gates of Prayer, had power and was welcom- in.g the community for a"blue jeans" Shabbat. A family from Shir Cha- dash did survive a dramatic rescue, With water rising, a husband and wife were wait- ing in their car for a National Guard boat. They called their daughter on their cell phone, who called Shir Chadash. From there, Lassen called the rabbi to alert him. The couple was rescued and are now OK. Despite the coinciding dates of Katrina and Isaac, Linden said he did not neces- sarily see a heavenly hand in such matters. "I don~t think of these l 1" " things theolog'ca ly, he said. But, he added, "Ritual offers the restoration of normalcy and that's part of what we can provide," he went on. "New Orleans is a great place. People came" together and I know they're now staying at each other's houses and helping each other out and there's something very pow- erful about that." Chabad From page 2A making life unbearable. Jewish doctors and lawyers were only allowed to have Jewish clients, all Jews were forced-to.wear a yellow star, Jews were not allowed to be out past 6 p.m. and Jews were no longer al- lowed to own businesses. With false papers he escaped to Hungry as a gentile but eventually had to hide since there were virtually no men around as they all were in the army. With the help of the Zion- ist group Betar he found a small hole where he hid for weeks, living off old popcorn and bread that his girlfriend managed to bring him every ~)nce in a.while. When he heard the chat- ter of men in Russian, he knew he had survived the war. Sadly, the rest of his family wasn't that lucky. The event proceeded as the crowd joined in for the singing of "Oseh Shalom," part of the Kaddish memo- rial prayer, and the shofar was blown as is the custom in the month preceeding Rosh Hashanah.' Joanne Caras, author of the "Holocaust Survivor's Cookbook" mesmerized the crowd with her stories of miracles and survival. She told of the survivors who would talk about these recipes while in the labor camps and wouldsomehow feel their stomachs being nourished,without tasting a thing. There was one woman who was so young When she was torn away from her family, she didn't remem- ber what her mom looked like, but she did remember the recipe of her mama's chicken soup and as she was filling the pot "a bis- sel of this and a bissel of that" images and forgotten memories all came back. Every recipe in the cook- book-is recorded exactly as it was passed down. This one got the laugh of the night: one woman wrote down in her notes "have your husband peel the vegetables .... " The Jewish princess must have not been an American inven- tion. "The eveningwas a great success," said Rabbi Yanky Majesky, "we sold out all of the cookbooks and raised over $1,800 for the Car- mei Hair soup kitchen in Jerusalem." Carmei Hair feeds more than 500 poor Israelis daily with the greatest dignity. "It feels like a restaurant," Caras said. To date, the cookbook has generated moe than $150,000 allowing Carmei Hair to keep its doors open and ensuring that these old Jewish recipes continue to help feed hundreds of hungry stomachs every single day. Sonia Semel (1), Chana Deutch, Joanne Caras and Pat Jarosz Sudoku solution from page 7 527491683 814326i759 39 785 4i12 1 ' 6' 72!3'94 Moral 3 1 4 ,9 5 28 From e&at' 8176 3867 724 1 864935 76 9 4 45 63 27 253 921 89!5 1 ultimately not so different from the old. Already in the mid-19th century, socialists as diverse as Karl Marx, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Mikhail Bakunin had postulated the existertce of a universal, anti-social Jewish mercantile "essence" that had supposedly seized con- Ymdty Majesky upi~ speaker George Barth. trol of the capitalist world and would therefore have to be destroyed. Their heirs today have embraced the phantasmagoric view that humanity can be redeemed (and peace finally achieved in the Middle East) only if the ~vorld is physically liber- ated from the new "Jewish" yoke--that of a demonic American-Zionist-Israeli conspiracy. :~ If the contemporary left seriously wishes to reclaim its own moral credibility and pol'itical relevance, it will have to engage in some serious sOul-searching and definitively free itself from the incubus of such perverse fantasies. Only in this way can it hope to reconnect to an authentic emancipatory vision of human liberation. Robert S. Wis?rich is the director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of the newly published "From Ambivalence to Betrayal; The Left, The Jews and Is- rael," University of Nebraska Press, 2012.