I was amazed by the resilience of the people of Houston. Early Sunday morning, September 17th, my daughter Naama and I boarded a flight to George Bush International Airport. We went with twenty-five kittels for the High Holidays, a few other supplies to restock a flooded synagogue that were organized by the Great Neck Synagogue, and $8000 in funds donated by our students and members of the Young Israel in Great Neck. Armed with respirators, work gloves, and the cell numbers of those coordinating volunteers, we spent the next two and a half days in a whirlwind of emotional and physical activity.
I felt at once really proud of us for giving our energy and time, and guilty for feeling proud; and guilty again for being able to fly home to my own home that was undamaged. Naama and I were thanked so many times for showing up; one of the people whose home we helped pack up told me that we were such a help that we didn’t need to do any mitzvot until Pesach. (We didn’t listen – we have done a few mitzvot since.)
I was amazed at the resilience of the people of Houston. No one we asked – and I spoke to many people – knew of anyone who had decided that enough was enough; that after two or three, or sometimes four floods of their homes and many of their possessions in the past three years, no one has decided to leave their community and find a drier place to live. This is their home, and they are staying put.
I knew that the work we did would make a small contribution to the community; I also knew it was a great way to prepare ourselves for the Yamim Nora’im. It’s difficult to pick one or even several of the most special moments, but when Naama told me as we drove back to the airport that she wants to one day take a trip like this with her own children is a moment that will stay with me for a long time. Naama and I are honored to have been the emissary of the NSHA and Great Neck communities on this important mission.