Like so many in the Northeast, my wife and I have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy. No heat. (I jokingly said that it reminded me of my years in Jerusalem as a student when our apartment was cold all the time anyway.) No electricity. And, of course, no internet service. We were stuck out of town for several days before the airports opened, finally permitting us to travel home to survey the damage: lots of downed trees, utility wires everywhere. It will be a while before we are able to function close to normal again. But as I keep reminding people who are concerned about our property: “It is just stuff.” Many others are confronting real problems and are at risk. We are simply inconvenienced at worst. So we will continue to invite ourselves to more people’s homes for dinner and warmth—unless things are settled at home.
I was reminded of several things following the aftermath of the storm, all reminding me of the power of community that we often take for granted. First, the organized Jewish community went into high gear, in particular, the synagogue community with which I am affiliated. Everyone had to be accounted for and taken care of. And the synagogue served as a “comfort center,” something certainly new to add to the traditional designations as house of assembly, prayer, and study. And in our neighborhood, people helped one another—and continue to do so—all working together, no matter the religion, color, or creed. Everyone knew that we are in this together. The Big Tent was truly represented.
At JOI, we talk about community and its value—something that needs to be articulated frequently. And now we have yet another example of the power of community and one of the reasons it should be supported—it is always there, especially when you need it.