Grateful for Flood Cleanup, Colorado Chabads Prep for Sukkot
Just days ago, Chany Scheiner’s kitchen was awash in water. Today, she is busy preparing meals to send to others in similar straits.
“Everyone here is struggling just to put their lives back together,” says Scheiner, who co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Boulder County with her husband, Rabbi Pesach Scheiner. “Just before Yom Kippur, as we were working frantically to get the water out of our synagogue, which is attached to our home, and pull out the carpets and restore things so that we could have services there as usual, another one of the Chabad families here sent us a hot meal, and it was so touching. It was more than just food. It meant that someone cared for us.”
Now Scheiner is passing on the favor to others in the same boat, so to speak. She says the entire experience has been one of neighbors helping neighbors. “On Thursday, as water began creeping into our house, our neighbor, who is not Jewish, offered to transport us and our synagogue to a home on higher grounds. It felt like the splitting of the sea,” she explains. “The streets were filled with water, and we needed to drive really fast or we would get stuck. We did not realize how special it was at the time until we began hearing reports of overbooked hotels and people sleeping in the lobbies as their houses filled with water.”
Ultimately, the Scheiners decided to go home for Yom Kippur and try to get their synagogue functional for the holiday. “Again, our neighbors came to the rescue. They brought a team of 15 people and spent the entire day working. They cleared the layer of muck that filled the room, tore out the carpet, and scraped and washed the furniture down. It was amazing to see the care.”
Gift Cards for Those Who Lost Everything
Over in Longmont, Colo., Lisa Trank Greene says she is working with local retailers trying to arrange gift cards for people who lost everything. During Yom Kippur with Chabad of Longmont, she met many people who had to leave their homes. “I was speaking with people who had been evacuated who lost everything—they had two dogs and the clothes on their backs,” she says. “I am very concerned about the people who have nowhere to go.”
She says that social media has proven a big help during the disaster. “Facebook and Twitter are really the ways that people are spreading the word. People use it to offer services and even their homes, and to connect people with what they need. It is where people are sharing information.”
Meanwhile, Rabbi Yisroel Wilhelm, co-director of Chabad of the University of Colorado, has been harnessing social media to marshal more than 100 student volunteers to help people salvage their homes and belongings. One such person is university freshman Lael Siler.
“Rabbi Wilhelm put me in touch with a family whose home was flooded. A woman and her son live below the water table, so water began seeping into their basement, where they sleep. They woke up on Thursday morning, and everything was wet. They were scared,” he explains. “The first thing we did was take everything up stairs. We had to wash all the clothing and totally reorganize things. At the same time, we had to pump out the water from the lower level of their home. They were working around the clock to make their home liveable, and I helped every day.”
Volunteers from throughout the state and beyond have been helping with both the physical effort and donations for those devastated by floodwaters.
Though Siler didn’t know the family beforehand, the experience has fostered a strong bond with the family. “Sure, we plan on keeping in touch. We got to know each other very well. She wants me to tutor her son, and I would like to learn yoga from her, so we have some plans for when things return to normal.”
Wilhelm says the kindness has come from far beyond Colorado. “Some really nice man I don’t know just called from New York and told me he will pay for free pizza to all the volunteers who are working hard to help out with the flooding. What an absolute mensch!”
He says people have been very grateful for the assistance they have gotten.
“You should be very, very proud of them! We were overwhelmed with help,” read an email he received. “I lost count of how many students showed up with smiles on their faces, willing to do whatever we needed. They helped get the carpet out from under the exercise equipment, and then helped move the soggy (and very heavy) carpet and pad that we had already torn out to our alley. Even though I said we only really needed the help for lifting the weight equipment and they were free to go when that was done, they stayed to help scrape carpet pad off the floor.”
With the holiday of Sukkot beginning on Wednesday night, Scheiner is in the midst of all the planning and preparation. “People are just dealing with making their homes livable, so I don’t think they will be building sukkahs [thatch-covered booths where Jews eat and pray during the holiday]. We will be building a mobile sukkah and driving it around to share Sukkot with people who otherwise would be without.”
See the original and full article, here: www.chabad.org/2333521
Chabad-Lubavitch is a world-wide Jewish movement with a two century old religious philosophical system. Considered to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today, the organization consists of over 3,500 institutions worldwide directed by over 4,000 full-time emissaries and a workforce that numbers in the tens of thousands.
Dedicated to the spiritual and material welfare of the Jewish people and motivated by respect and affection for each individual, the movement has set into motion an astounding array of innovative programs, services and institutions to serve the needs of Jews everywhere. More information on Chabad is available at www.Chabad.org.
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