A special service on the steps of Chabad of Mineola, a synagogue and community center in New York’s Nassau County, offered prayers for those most affected by last week’s Hurricane Irene.

Led by Chabad-Lubavich Rabbi Anchelle Perl, the service included a reading of Psalms, words of inspiration, and in keeping with customs relating to the Hebrew month of Elul – which began on Tuesday – the blowing of a ram’s horn known as a shofar.

“Even as we give thanks here on Long Island,” said Perl, “we must pause and have empathy for those who really got the brunt of the hurricane. While we may still have a few inconveniences, so many have lost homes and so many sadly have lost their lives. Our hearts reach out especially to those who have lost someone.”

When it blew through over the weekend, Hurricane Irene left a trail of destruction up and down the East Coast, killing as many as 18 people. While the devastation was much less than predicted, areas in Vermont are still reeling from the flooding brought on by the storm’s heavy rainfall.

“One of the lessons is that we are not in control,” continued Perl. “What we can be in control over is how we respond to challenge. Would we be stressed out or show strength? Would we spend the time doing something meaningful? Would we start to appreciate the ‘little’ things like electricity and dry roads?

“Once we gain that control, even Hurricane Irene can’t stop us.”