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Jewish Centers Say No Power, No Problem as Post-Sandy Sabbath Approaches

Jewish Centers Say No Power, No Problem as Post-Sandy Sabbath Approaches

Rabbi Moshe Schapiro from Hoboken, N.J., helps a Jewish victim of Hurricane Sandy don the prayer boxes known as tefillin.
Rabbi Moshe Schapiro from Hoboken, N.J., helps a Jewish victim of Hurricane Sandy don the prayer boxes known as tefillin.

Their homes and businesses out of power days after the passage of Hurricane Sandy, Jewish families in West Orange, N.J., were facing the prospect of not being able to celebrate the approached Sabbath with the traditional bread known as challah. Rabbi Mendy Kasowitz of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center of Essex County would have none of it.

“I spoke to the baker and told him that he should take my generator,” Kasowitz said Thursday evening. “The community needs challahs.”

A student who works with the rabbi stood in line for two hours to fill up gas cans so that the baker could run the generator all night. By midnight, he already had a few hundred of the tasty loaves made. Kasowitz plans to hand-deliver many of them to homebound seniors and others still stuck in their darkened homes. The rest will be eaten at small community-wide dinners held at those few homes that are lucky enough to have power.

“We’re going to have small, quiet meals,” said the rabbi. “People are happy to hunker down for a nice meal with their neighbors. That’s the feeling after one of the worst storms in history.”

With Chabad-Lubavitch centers, synagogues and schools across the northeast in various stages of recovery, their directors are still working to make the first Sabbath after Sandy one to remember.

Kasowitz’s synagogue has power, so volunteers will be cooking trays of frozen food, and welcoming congregants from nearby synagogues to pray and join them for a large meal.

“Everyone’s welcome,” he said, speaking of how he and his wife, co-director Altie Kasowitz, have been checking in on area residents and preparing for the influx of guests. “We’re going to ask everyone to chip in and come and be here and socialize.

“We really have so much to be grateful for: We have so many loving friends and neighbors. Everyone’s there for each other, it’s unbelievable,” he continued. “It’s just a wonderful sense of community.”

In Freehold, N.J., there’s still no electricity and most phone lines are down, but Rabbi Avrohom Bernstein has still invited people over for Friday night. There won’t be much, but there’ll be challah and soup for those who want something warm.

“It should be nice,” he said. “It’s a very meaningful time, because people really put things into perspective. There are things that we take for granted so many times.”

Chanie Zaklikovsky, co-director of the Chabad of Monroe Township in New Jersey, said that despite the lack of lights and running water, she and her husband are still working hard to get people hot meals.

“We’ll do the best we can under the circumstances and cheer everyone up, and we hope that soon everything will turn back on again,” she said.

Rabbi Eliezer Zaklikovsky has been distributing self-heating kosher meals to Jewish college students in nearby shelters, and is trying to get a generator so that prayer services can take place in the synagogue.

“We’re trying to get hot soup as well,” he said. “Our spirit is strong. The damage is great, but we’re trying to move on.”

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K. Khan Lahore, Pakistan November 3, 2012

Judaism at its very best. We, wish that the entire world could follow this example. Reply

Jamie Los Angeles November 2, 2012

No power at Daughters of Israel If anyone makes it over to Daughters of Israel in West Orange (1155 Pleasant Valley Way), I know that the residents there have no lights and no TV; my uncle lives there. I think their kitchen is on a generator, which is a great blessing, but since so many of them have bad eyesight, reading is out of the question. That means they've been sitting there since Monday with nothing to do. Visitors would surely be appreciated. Reply

Editor November 2, 2012

Chabad Relief Effort Thank you for your support.

Contributions to Chabad's relief efforts can be made by clicking here. Reply

Anonymous Scottsdale November 2, 2012

How to Help How can we help Chabad's relief efforts? Is there somewhere we can donate? Reply

G. Levin New Haven, CT November 2, 2012

Sandy and Mendy I am so impressed with Rabbi Kasowitz and Chabad everywhere! They take tragedy and turn it into a treasury of human kindness towards one another. I read in other places where the Torahs were damaged...but this makes it clear that the love of your fellow person -the VERY quality we are taught to be equal to the entire Torah - can never be destroyed! Reply

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