URJ Hurricane Relief Update - March 7, 2013

Below is a comprehensive update of the
URJ Hurricane Relief Efforts to date.

General: The Union for Reform Judaism's Hurricane Relief Fund has now collected $782,795 for Hurricane Sandy relief and has disbursed more than $427,000.

  • General Relief: $742,711
  • Youth Scholarships: $10,681
  • West End Temple in Neponsit, NY: $29,403

The URJ's Congregational Network Staff continues to work with all congregations affected by the storm and advising congregational leaders on how to best help individual congregants and continue providing services to congregants.

Allocations:The URJ allocates funds in three stages: immediate, mid-term and long-term recovery. Funds will be disbursed slowly to ensure that those severely impacted will receive the long-term support they need.

Allocations to Date:

  • $142,000 to support Reform congregations.
    • $90,000 to West End Temple in Neponsit, NY 
    • $20,000 to Temple Sinai in Massapequa, NY
    • $7,500 was sent to North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, New York, to provide three meals a day to displaced families. 
    • $5,000 was sent to Woodlands Community Temple in White Plains, NY to help families replace their lost Judaica
    • The remaining $19,500 was allocated to congregations with families who are displaced or whose homes were severely damaged.
  • $60,000 to Friends of Rockaway (FoR), a neighborhood council in Queens, NY that formed after Hurricane Sandy. FoR hires unemployed Rockaway residents to properly gut homes that were destroyed by the hurricane. Michael Sinensky, co-founder of Friends of the Rockaway, recognized the Reform Movement's help and said, "We're rebuilding with our own people and it's an amazing thing. People are recognizing the fact that we are one of the only local groups in Rockaway not only doing relief, but rebuilding."
  • $50,000 to Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, NY, which has been providing meals and organizing volunteers since Hurricane Sandy (primarily in Coney Island and the Rockaways); provide a hub for a diverse group of people from across religious, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds to help those most in need; and to establish a permanent five-day a week feeding program at the Ocean School in Eastern Far Rockaway.
  • $50,000 to New York Legal Assistance Group, which provides free civil legal services to New Yorkers who cannot afford a private attorney. NYLAG has been helping victims with FEMA applications, public benefits, housing issues, insurance and other immediate legal needs, and training lawyers unfamiliar with this kind of work to help their neighbors.
  • $50,000 to NECHAMA, the Jewish Response to Disaster, to build additional response capacity by scaling up human capital and their inventory of tools, equipment, supplies and vehicles on the ground. NECHAMA personnel arrived in New Jersey less than 18 hours after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, worked through the snowstorm that occurred the following week and deployed their entire staff to manage volunteers, assist inpiduals and organizations with clean up and preparation for rebuilding. 
  • $25,000 to Broad Channel Athletic Club, a community center which existed before the storm that provided extracurricular activities such as a teen club after school and in the summer, sports leagues, and other services to the Broad Channel, Neponsit, and Rockaway communities. Our grant supports the rebuilding of the community center which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy.
  • $25,000 to Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG), which serves Ocean County, NJ, where Sandy had massive and widespread impact; they will be coordinating necessary services and resources (including donated labor/materials) to address client needs - physical, social, economic and spiritual - and will work together to advocate with community partners through the LTRG to overcome barriers which might otherwise inhibit recovery.
  • $25,000 to Monmouth County LTRG, which serves Monmouth County, NJ, where more than 1,500 families and individuals remain displaced and another 1,000 inhabit homes unfit for living due to a lack of heat, hot water, or a growth of mold on the premises. Like the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group, Monmouth County will coordinate services and resources to help address the long-term needs of residents.

Special Funds:

Youth Scholarship Fund: This fund helps youth remain connected with their Jewish community at a time when their belongings and physical structure may be damaged or lost by removing financial barriers that could keep displaced youth from their communities when they need it most. The Women of Reform Judaism contributed $10,000 to this fund.

West End Temple: West End Temple in Neponsit, NY, suffered significant damage from Hurricane Sandy. The URJ has been collecting funds on behalf of West End Temple until they have electricity and their online system is functional.

Congregations Take Action: Reform congregations all over North America are doing their part to help

Judaica Replacement Project: Twenty families whose homes or belongings were swept away in Hurricane Sandy have some comfort coming their way, thanks to a partnership with Woodlands Community Temple (White Plains, NY), the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) and the URJ.  Shortly after the Hurricane, URJ congregations in Hurricane Sandy affected areas assessed which of their families had lost significant possessions and Woodlands was asked to coordinate a project to replace Jewish ritual objects to these families, such as Kiddush cups, Shabbat candlesticks, menorahs and Jewish books for the home. The Judaica Replacement Project at Woodlands is modeled after a program run by WRJ to assist families after Hurricane Katrina. WRJ put out an appeal across the country to their Sisterhoods and member Judaica Shops to donate ritual items. With incredible generosity, temples across America and Canada sent items to Woodlands to help families rebuild their Jewish world.  Through a grant from the URJ Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, books and CDs are being purchased to include in the packages. 

News Coverage to Date: