You can’t pick up a newspaper or listen to a media broadcast these days without hearing about the extensive damage caused by recent flooding in Nashville, TN. The Gordon Jewish Community Center became a vital Red Cross shelter offering food and clothing for some 500 people left homeless by floodwaters. It is one of the major distribution points in the city. The Jewish Federation of Nashville & Middle Tennessee has opened a disaster relief mailbox for donations at www.jewishnashville.org.
According to Steven J. Edelstein, Federation executive director, the loss to the city is astronomical. The mayor has estimated the losses to exceed $1 billion. Jewish Family Service has identified and is working with 40 Jewish families representing 83 people out of their homes and the numbers rise on a daily basis. Most of the families do not have flood insurance. Initial cash disbursements have been made and the Federation is looking at next steps, possibly including loans.
“The town is so resilient,” says Edelstein. “Thousands of local volunteers have been all over the place.” The Federation has been coordinating volunteers and the congregations have been directly assisting their members with clean-up and other support. Rabbis have visited the affected areas. Even if some of our members were not personally affected, Edelstein notes that “everyone has a relative, friend or co-worker who was not as fortunate.”
There are blessing, however, even in the devastation. Friends, congregants, clergy, social workers, and even strangers are all lending a hand. Edelstein notes that his neighbors are purchasing supplies and handing them out to those in need. Impromptu cookouts have brought people together who might not have known one another previously. There is a common bond created by the tragedy that is shared by all.
“There are so many out there who care, across this nation and its Jewish communities,” says Edelstein. Calls, emails and donations have come in from individuals and Jewish Federations far and wide as has the support of the Jewish Federations of North America. “We must all count our blessing, he concluded, “even hose of us who may have less of them than we did a week ago. We must all work harder to create more blessings for those in need at this time.”