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October 9, 2015 | 26th Tishrei 5776
SOS New Orleans

Imagine what your congregation would be like if 25%-35% of your members moved away next week …your friends and your children’s friends …officers and leaders of your congregation and its affiliates …children in your religious school … teachers …families with teens in your youth programs … and your synagogue needs to continue its work without dues coming in…

That is what the four Reform Jewish congregations of New Orleans now face. Of their 2000+ families, 500 to 600 may not return. They have lost homes and personal possessions, businesses and professional practices. These congregations need us to help them maintain their operations, programs and services in this time of uncertainty.

With your help – as individuals and as congregations – the Union for Reform Judaism assumed a leadership role in responding to the urgent needs of both Jews and non-Jews affected by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma:

  • More than $3.6 million contributed in cash and gift cards;
  • More than 3 million pounds of food and supplies delivered through the Jacobs’ Ladder project to people in need throughout the Gulf Coast;
  • Countless individual connections and support from North American congregations

Our Reform Jewish community is making a real difference in people’s lives in the Gulf Coast and throughout North America. Among all Jewish communal organizations, we had the infrastructure in place to harness and focus your need to offer assistance and to direct that assistance where it is most effective. Fortunately, we rarely have such opportunities to participate in this kind of hands-on tikkun olam...

But now we must do even more.
he Union for Reform Judaism Hurricane Relief Fund has provided 4 months of general financial support for the 4 directly affected congregations: Congregation Gates of Prayer of Metairie, Temple Sinai and Touro Synagogue of New Orleans, and the Northshore Jewish Congregation of Mandeville.

These are extraordinary times. Never in our modern Jewish history have we witnessed such a dramatic displacement of a Jewish community in North America: so many people displaced, for who knows how long a time. Those who are returning and trying to rebuild their lives need the sense of community that their synagogues can provide now more than ever. Those who want to return need to know their congregations will be there for them.

Those congregations are trying to resume normal operations. Shabbat services, religious schools, and educational programs are up and running once again. While not everyone has a house, congregants came together to erect their sukkot.

The buildings can and will be repaired, but souls and spirits do not mend so easily. Just as you seek the warmth and familiarity of your synagogue family in your time of need, so do the Jews of New Orleans look to their congregations for strength and support.

At a time when the Jews of New Orleans most need spiritual and physical sustenance, at a time when they are most likely to turn to their congregational families …

We must be their congregational families.
We must be there for the Jews of New Orleans. We must be responsible for one another, helping them rebuild not just their facilities but their communities. We must help them so they can find their way to the light and hope of Chanukah and beyond.

Be there for the Jews of New Orleans.
As of June 1, more than $400,000 was donated to the new SOS New Orleans fund. Our thanks to the Jewish Endowment Foundation of New Orleans, which has matched, dollar for dollar, donations up to $250,000, bringing the value of the SOS Fund to more than $650,000.

You, too, can stand with the Jews of New Orleans by making your special contribution today. You can download the form on this page, print and mail it directly to the Union for Reform Judaism. You also can make your gift on-line. 

We are all Jews of New Orleans.


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