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Forward: Jewish community in Nashville in recovery mode

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Check out The Forward’s story on the Jewish community’s road to recovery in Nashville following severe flooding this month that left 30 dead and thousand’s displaced.

From The Forward:

The Nashville area is home to about 600,000 people. The most recent population study, conducted by the local Jewish federation back in 2002, put the city’s Jewish population at 8,000. Historian Stuart Rockoff asserts that Nashville has surpassed Memphis as the Tennessee city with the largest Jewish community.

After the flood, the local Jewish Family Service sprung into action. The first thing that the director, Pam Kelner, did was call the director of JFS in New Orleans, which was battered by Hurricane Katrina five years ago. “[We] wanted to find out what they did and adopt the best practices rather than spending a day or two figuring out what to do,” she said.

JFS of Nashville decided to award stipends to displaced Jewish residents. Four days after the flooding began, they started cutting checks — $700 a person — for immediate needs, such as clothing, food and shelter. As of press time, nearly $40,000 had been given out to 57 people.

The Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee raised these funds, primarily through its website. The federation’s executive director, Steve Edelstein, said he was touched to receive several donations from members of the Jewish community of New Orleans. The Jewish Federations of North America has spearheaded a loan program, which the Nashville federation is expected to administer.

The Jewish disaster-response organization Nechama, which means “comfort” in Hebrew, expects to deploy volunteers to clean water-damaged homes of the elderly and infirm in the coming days. The organization’s executive director, Jim Stein, said that many people didn’t realize that most possessions that survive water disasters must be thrown out because the mold they can breed is dangerous. “It’s heartbreaking; you literally see people’s lives sitting on the curb,” he said.

Read the rest here.

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