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When Hurricane Sandy hit my home

Friday, 2 November, 2012 - 2:06 am

Dear Friends,

I’d like to share with you the personal impact that Hurricane Sandy had on my life. While I have been in Victoria during this storm, it has come as close as can be to my home.

Last summer, Chani and I traveled with the family to a wedding in Florida. Prior to the Simcha, we spent a week in New York. Being a family of 8, thank G-d, we needed a home which was ready to have our family “take-over”...

Rivky, Chani’s cousin, lives together with her husband Rabbi Chaim Brikman and their children in Seagate, New York. They serve as the Rabbi and Rebbetzin of the main Synagogue in the neighborhood and they extend their reach to the Jewish population of the entire Coney Island. For the last 20 years, they have given everything to this community, who responded to them with appreciation and love.

When they heard that we are looking for a home for a week, Rivky said “our home is yours”, and they meant it. They opened their house to us with warmth and generosity that is hard to describe. They have moved their children away to make more room for us; they went above and beyond to make our stay pleasant and comfortable. At times we felt that we owned the house and they were our guest... When we wanted to thank them for their generosity, they frankly refused, telling us that the thanks goes to us for giving them the honour...

The Seagate neighborhood is a gated community of private homes at the tip of Coney Island on the Atlantic Ocean. When Sandy hit New York, it started with Seagate. The storm hit more forcefully than expected and many houses were totally destroyed and the rest were unimaginably damaged. The entire neighborhood looks now like a war zone. The stormy water broke through all the blockades that the Brikmans had in place and flooded the basement of the house with more than 2 meters of water. That large space holds Rabbi and Mrs. Brikman's offices, their library and storage for many of their valuables.

Like everyone else, I was shocked to see the terrible destruction that this storm left behind on the east coast, but I know how I can make difference. I will try and help this generous family recover from their great lost. I’ll help them rebuild their home, which has been mine for a week in the summer...

I spoke to Rabbi Brikman this morning. “I want to help”, I said. “Yes, we need help for so many in our community who don’t know how they are going to carry on” he answered. Chaim, as always, was thinking about others first. I told Chaim that our small contribution will go to help renovate his house and restore the library and offices from where he and his wife carried out their message of love and kindness.

I call you today to join the effort of helping the Seagate Jewish community. Our sages teach us “it is not upon you to complete the task but you are not free to idle from it”. It is not enough to shake our head at the TV screen or to tell our friends how terrible it is; we must make the difference we can. Judaism teaches us that the only way to react to a disaster is with a helping hand.

Click here to make a direct donation to the Seagate Jewish community.

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