I will never forget the summer of 2013. It was the summer I first visited Houston, and for that matter, my first time South of the Mason Dixie lines. The kindness, spirit, and sincerity that I have encountered in Texas, left a long-lasting impression on me to this day. From the security officer in the airport asking me how the people in Israel are doing and that he and his Church pray for them, the warmth and hospitality the people of UOS Synagogue, have received me, the warmth of Texas remains in my bones. This personal connection multiplies the sorrow and grief that I and so many others feel when looking at the damage and wreckage Hurricane Harvey has inflicted on Texas.
The strongest Hurricane to hit the state of Texas since 1961, Harvey has left a path of chaos and destruction in Texas in general and in Houston in particular. With six of the ten fatalities in Houston alone, the pain of Harvey is well felt.
At this time, I can think of the children whose rooms and playrooms are no longer, of the homes and schools now destroyed, and of the upcoming school year, in which so many of the students will have to worry about more than just their homework and friends.
I can also think of the beautiful synagogue I visited and spoke at, wondering if they need to evacuate all the Torah scrolls and prayer books.
It’s at times like this that we must be there for one another. Be it through donations to the Jewish Federation’s Hurricane Harvey fund, the RCA-OU Houston Fund, the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Fund, or through signing up to say Tehillim and pray, we need to be there for each other. If you don’t find any of these appealing, there is another thing that you can do: go online, and watch the disaster and destruction taking place in the South.
One of the most powerful qualities of Moses as a leader was that from the comfort of his Egyptian palace, he went out to see his brothers’ suffering(Exodus 2:11). Even if there is nothing that he can do, just paying attention to what someone else is going through, and giving out sympathy, is meaningful. This is what brings us together as humans: caring for one another.
And as I speak to friends, colleagues, and family from around the world, there is a powerful message that emerges for the people of Texas and Louisiana: we all care. Whoever it is and wherever they are, we are following what is going on, thinking of your courage and perseverance, and have our thoughts and prayers are with you.