Getting Back to Normal in New Orleans

After the menace of Hurricane Gustav, residents are making their way back to the New Orleans area, and Jewish institutions are planning to reopen this weekend.

Michael Weil, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, returned yesterday after riding out the storm in Memphis. He reported that aside from half a tree sitting on the pool house at the Goldring/Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie, Jewish institutions and agencies “are intact.” Much of the city is without power, and the sewers are not yet functioning normally in parts of the city.

Both JCC locations are scheduled to reopen this Sunday, and the New Orleans Jewish Day School will begin classes on Monday.

A major event in the community, the installation of Rabbi Alexis Berk at Touro Synagogue, has been postponed from this coming Friday night. A new date will be announced soon. The congregation, which reports a power outage but no serious damage, is also postponing the first day of Sunday School to Sept. 14.

As reported earlier, Beth Israel will hold an unveiling on Sept. 21 for a cemetery marker where the congregation’s Katrina Torahs were buried. The ceremony had been scheduled for Aug. 31.

The Federation’s annual meeting, scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Metairie campus, will go on as scheduled.

Ned Goldberg, director of Jewish Children’s Regional Service, said Mitzvah Day at the campus will proceed on Sept. 14.

About 150 members of the New Orleans Jewish community took refuge at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Miss., during the storm.

Weil noted that New Orleans Jewish Family Service is available for returnees who need assistance, and can be reached at (504) 831-8475, or emailing jfs (at)

Biloxi breather

For the Jewish community of Biloxi/Gulfport, Gustav was little more than a nuisance. Beth Israel congregation, which lost its building in Hurricane Katrina, is still on schedule to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 26 in Gulfport.

There was no damage at Beauvoir United Methodist Church, which has hosted Beth Israel since the storm. The congregation will hold High Holy Day services at Keesler Air Force Base once again, for what they hope will be the last time.

It is estimated that the new building will take 10 months to complete.