Rebuilding after Sandy – Bonim B’Yachad – Building Together

Rebuilding After Sandy – Bonim B’Yachad –Building Together

“I hope you will soon sit on your deck and go back to feeling at home.”

“Unless God builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

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In Union Beach on the New Jersey shore, Hurricane Sandy did a great deal of damage. 52 homes were washed away; 300 had to be taken down; 911 had more than three feet of water. 1700 of the 2200 homes were impacted. These were year-round homes owned by hard-working people with little reserve or ability to rebuild.

Israelis in areas partnered with Greater MetroWest Federation (GMW) expressed concern about how we were doing. Fulfilling a dream of Amir Shacham’s, Jewish Helping Hands was able to join with GMW and the Jewish Agency to create Bonim B’Yachad – Building Together. Our local partners Gateway Church and Temple Shaari Emeth helped make it a reality.

 

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Twenty-two of us, including ten Israelis, spent a week in August helping to rebuild one family’s home. An Israeli participant noted that she was surprised that she could work together with Americans and with Israelis and feel as close to them as if she had known them all her life. We all had the same feeling.

It was an experience in Jewish religious living, including prayer and Torah study in addition to the physical work. We meditated, read and studied Torah and debated the proper way to give tzedakah money.

 

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We worked hard, putting insulation into all of the walls and then installing sheetrock, followed by taping and spackling. Windows were put into place and a new deck was created.

 

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The homeowner, a widow in her 60’s, has lived in her home for 26 years, with her daughter and two grandchildren and her autistic son. She and her son stayed in the attic as the storm waters rose in the house and a tree kept hitting into it. Finally, they were able to swim to safety. She is now starting to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel.

On our last day, we offered prayers on behalf of the family. One American volunteer wrote: “May you continue to live in this house with the same love and joy with which we all helped to fix it.”  Additional volunteers then came and finished the job:

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