Repairing the World – A Wrench, A Mop, And Our Neshama!

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05 Jun 2019

So there I was, on the floor, crouched over a door hinge. It was dark. The only light I had was from my iPhone, which was propped up on a towel from the linen closet. It smelled. But I was determined to get the hinge off, which would allow me to get the door off, which would allow me to complete the task at hand.

The giggling in the background didn’t help, as a decent screwdriver might, but it didn’t bother me either. I was in a house, somewhere outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico, on anNCSY Relief Mission with 15 Jewish teens, from both apublic high school and yeshiva day school. Our job that day was to repair a home devastated by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. And my particular job was to remove the doors. Yup, they were painted in, jammed closed, and mildewed.

NCSY started bringing Jewish teens on Relief Missionsseveral years ago. To date, under the guidance of Rabbi Ethan Katz, NCSY has conducted 103 ‘chesed’ missions, bringing roughly 1,500 teens to natural disaster-rampaged placesincluding Houston, New Orleans and San Juan.

It’s worth pointing out that there is no Wi-Fi in many places we worked. By extension, the idea of bringing a teen to do physical labor, all day, with no internet access seemed ludicrous. As a parent, I could not fathom how this wouldwork for more than six minutes at a time, let alone all day – day after day. I was wrong.

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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.