NOLA Jewish community establishes Harvey relief task force

Twelve years after scores of people from the New Orleans Jewish community found themselves in Houston for long periods of time after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is returning the favor.

On Aug. 30, representatives from the Greater New Orleans Jewish community agencies, organizations and synagogues met at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie to launch a Hurricane Harvey Relief task force, convened by new Jewish Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow.

The Federation is serving as the clearinghouse to make sure all of the partners’ efforts are easily accessible. A webpage has been set up detailing the New Orleans response to the unprecedented flooding in Texas.

After Katrina, the New Orleans Federation set up shop at Houston’s Jewish Federation for several months, coordinating the recovery until they could move back into their offices.

The New Orleans Federation is partnering with the Jewish Federations of North America on fundraising efforts. After Katrina, JFNA’s efforts brought $29 million in aid to the Gulf Coast, with outreach to both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans made an initial donation of $50,000 to relief efforts for Houston.

The New Orleans Federation’s web page has listings of what to donate, with drop off points at both Jewish Community Centers, Torah Academy and, for gift cards only, Jewish Family Service.

The Jewish Community Day School and Torah Academy in Metairie are welcoming Texas students tuition-free for the rest of the school year. The Day School already has a Kindergarten student from Texas enrolled.

The task force is also signing up “buddies” to serve as counselor/advisors, collecting volunteer information to help gut/muck houses, and collaborating with Second Harvest Food Bank’s efforts to get supplies into shelters through Texas and Louisiana.

Chabad in New Orleans has been in contact with Chabad in Houston and numerous individual families. Chabad in Baton Rouge is planning a trip to Houston on Sept. 3, with supplies donated in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and a team of volunteers.