Contact Us

Rabbis Lead ‘Convoy of Hope’ to Houston, Packed With Goods

Rabbis Lead ‘Convoy of Hope’ to Houston, Packed With Goods

A marathon 72-hour drive from Connecticut, and others from around the nation

 Email
Chabad Rabbi Mendy Hecht of New Haven, Conn., along with former rabbinical-school classmates and a number of Jewish community members, led a “Convoy of Hope” that brought truckloads of desperately needed supplies to storm-ravaged Houston.
Chabad Rabbi Mendy Hecht of New Haven, Conn., along with former rabbinical-school classmates and a number of Jewish community members, led a “Convoy of Hope” that brought truckloads of desperately needed supplies to storm-ravaged Houston.

Rabbi Mendy Hecht is tired. After all, he had a marathon 72 hours that saw him drive from his home in Connecticut all the way to Texas to help out those struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey before flying back home Tuesday in time to teaching several classes later that night.

Hecht, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary who serves as rabbi of the Orchard Street Shul and runs the Young Jewish Professionals of Greater New Haven, Conn., was the driving force behind the “Convoy of Hope,” which arranged to bring truckloads of desperately needed supplies to storm-ravaged Houston.

“After seeing all the devastation, and hearing all the craziness coming out of Houston from people I know and friends who live there, we knew we had to do something,” he says. “I thought, what if we can do something together to make as big an impact as possible, helping as many people as we can?”

So he called on some of his former rabbinical-school classmates to join him (and they, in turn, invited a community member or two to join them) by renting trucks and asking members of their communities to help fill them with food, toiletries and other related goods to be delivered to the Chabad Harvey Relief center in Houston.

Among those who answered the call was Rabbi Shaul Perlstein, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Chattanooga, Tenn. He rented a 20-foot truck, and people from throughout the city filled it with baby food, bottles, toiletries, hygiene products and more.

The convoy of five trucks arrived in Houston on Monday. As quickly as volunteers could unpack the supplies, the items were rushed to homes and shelters.

Unloading baby food, bottles, toiletries and more for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Unloading baby food, bottles, toiletries and more for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“It was a real eye-opener of how badly things are needed,” says Perlstein. “They were taking things off our truck, loading them onto pallets and sending them right out to people.”

Also participating in the convoy were Chabad rabbis from Atlanta; Fairfield County, Conn.; and West Bloomfield, Mich. 1Mitzvah, an organization co-founded by Rabbi Yossi Lipsker, director of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore in Swampscott, Mass., helped cover costs associated with the trip. Hecht notes that the synagogue and young professionals’ group he leads both volunteered to assist in the effort and also donated goods.

‘Imagine What It Was Like’

“The community really came through in just a few hours’ notice,” says Rabbi Shneur Silberberg of Bais Chabad in West Bloomfield. “People from all affiliations were lining up to fill the truck with bottled water, boxes of diapers, healthy kids’ snacks, towels, toothpaste, even a giant bag of dog food. It’s a beautiful testament to the kindness, empathy and generosity of the Detroit Jewish community.”

He added that the nearby Yad Ezra Food Pantry in Berkeley, Mich., donated “thousands of pounds of canned goods.”

The supplies were gratefully received, especially nonperishable kosher food. Here, a community member stands with Rabbi Levi Schectman, left, of Chabad at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.
The supplies were gratefully received, especially nonperishable kosher food. Here, a community member stands with Rabbi Levi Schectman, left, of Chabad at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.

While much of Houston is now up and running—and while eyes have turned eastward towards the path of Hurricane Irma—Hecht emphasizes that no one should think the area’s problems are over.

“It’s a very big city, and a lot of it was working when I got there, but there’s no question that you can see street after street where people had put their soggy drywall and carpet in front of their homes,” describes the rabbi. “Just approaching Houston, you could see standing water and parts of highways closed because of remaining high water, and that’s a week-and-a-half after the storm ended. Imagine what it was like before.”

After dropping the supplies off at the Chabad relief center, Hecht called the daughter of a couple from his own community who lives in the hard-hit and heavily Jewish Meyerland area. The family moved into their newly built home two weeks ago—and lost everything in the storm.

As he relates: “I said to her, ‘I have an empty truck, let me help you move some stuff.’ And she said to me, ‘Mendy, there’s nothing left to move.’ It’s these kinds of personal challenges families are dealing with that you don’t see.”

The convoy of five trucks landed in Houston on Monday.
The convoy of five trucks landed in Houston on Monday.
As quickly as supplies were unpacked, the items were rushed to homes and shelters.
As quickly as supplies were unpacked, the items were rushed to homes and shelters.


© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
Related Topics
Connect with us
RSS
In the Media
Find A Chabad Center Near You
Chabad-Lubavitch Directory