NEW ORLEANS (May. 14)
We have never asked them to come, but come they have, from California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Baltimore, Seattle and everywhere in between. The Jewish communities of North America have made it their collective cause to help sustain the Jewish community of Greater New Orleans through hands-on volunteering, by donating much-needed items, by raising funds for specific projects in the community, through the involvement of national religious movements and, of course, through the efforts of the United Jewish Communities, which has and continues to be the single largest donor of financial assistance to the New Orleans Jewish community.
And, for the best of all reasons, the requests to help have not stopped. One day it’s a temple in Philadelphia, the next an active donor from Los Angeles who simply wants to come down with her daughter and spend a few days being hands-on.
Finally, it’s a group of young adult leaders from the UJC, coming with gift cards in hand and with their muscle, removing debris from the homes of Jewish people.
But for all of this assistance, even eight months after Hurricane Katrina, the Jewish and general communities of New Orleans are still in need of volunteers for both hands-on projects and financial assistance. The community still has:
A list of people who need their homes cleared of damaged contents before they can begin to decide what their next step is;
A seniors home that always could use some smiling faces;
Shut-ins who need people to deliver “meals on wheels” and people to prepare that food.
And this is only the start of a long list of projects — physical and other — that a volunteer who wants to come down to Greater New Orleans can take part in during a two- to three-day stay.
And for those who are not able to come down and help, for whatever reason, being here is not the only way you can contribute. Gift cards from major national retail chains are always useful for people who have lost everything — clothes, furniture, appliances and books. And sending donations to the federation’s Katrina Fund so that our organizations can operate and run programs for our members is equally as important as being here.
North American Jewry’s response to this crisis with donations and direct assistance brings to mind the community’s response during the 1967 Six-Day War, when Jews got on planes and flew to Israel to help.
It is appreciated beyond words. We can give you a simple “thank you,” where a “thank you” is not enough, but that’s all we have to give. And we know that whether you come down and assist or help via a donation of one kind or another, you will touch and improve the lives of people whose lives have been shattered in more ways than one can describe.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to
Allan Bissinger is president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.