Iowa Jews affected by flooding


Flooding in Iowa has damaged a number of Jewish-owned businesses and forced some Jews from their homes in Cedar Rapids, a local rabbi said.

Aaron Sherman of Temple Judah noted that some of the businesses that have been flooded date back as far as 120 years.

He said an elderly couple in assisted living at a local hospital had to evacuate.

Cedar Rapids residents cannot get to work in Iowa City because the highway between the cities has been closed.

Temple Judah, which is dry and has electricity, has offered to house services for churches whose buildings have been flooded. Sherman said many of his congregants have been involved in sandbagging efforts.

“Rabbis from all over the country have called,” said Sherman, adding that a rabbi from New Orleans phoned with advice about sustaining a congregation in the face of a natural disaster.

Rabbi Avremel Blesofky, the Chabad director at the University of Iowa, says some families have evacuated their homes, travel has become more difficult and hospitals will only accept those in critical condition. Blesofsky is the closest Chabad rabbi to Cedar Rapids, where the flooding has been the most severe.

“The community has been very supportive and the tragedy has brought the best out of people,” Blesofsky said.

Elaine Steinger, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Des Moines, told JTA that some synagogue basements have been flooded but no one in the community has been “completely flooded out.”



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