A Letter from Houston

28 May 2015

Help Houston – Donate to the OU’s Disaster Relief Fund

Dear Friends,

מַיִם רַבִּים, לֹא יוּכְלוּ לְכַבּוֹת אֶת-הָאַהֲבָה, וּנְהָרוֹת, לֹא יִשְׁטְפוּהָ — Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it (Song of Songs 8:7)

As Houston begins to assess the damage of the flooding last night, the United Orthodox Synagogues community is also assessing the damage we have sustained.

We have already seen so many acts of kindness offered by those who were able to help, from opening up dry homes for those who need places to go, to canoe crews paddling all over the neighborhood to transfer those who needed help, to doctors volunteering to treat those who needed medical attention.

Houston flooding - Orthodox Union Relief Fund
Extensive flooding in and around Houston’s Jewish Community.  United Orthodox Synagogues suffered damage to almost every area of the synagogue building.

Of course, many many of our members suffered significant damage to their homes. All those affected will need emotional support. Fortunately, we are not aware of any injuries to our members from the flooding.

On a very sad note, our beloved Synagogue, United Orthodox Synagogues, suffered significant damage to almost every area of the synagogue building with the exclusion of Freedman Hall. Included in this is damage to the UOSGMS school wing and classrooms, many books in our library, as well as significant damage to siddurim and chumashim in the chapel and main sanctuary.

I am very happy to report that the Arks holding the Torah scrolls were also not affected and all of our Torah scrolls are dry.

It will take months to repair our spiritual home. We ask the everyone exercise patience as we move through this painstaking process.

I have already received dozens of emails, text messages and telephone calls from friends and colleagues wishing us well and offering us words of encouragement as we begin the process of rehabilitating our beloved synagogue. In a profound show of community concerns, many community Rabbis of all denominations have reached out as well.

Our most recent events in the synagogue were Smachot – happy occasions – the dedication of numerous ritual items, including two rededicated Torah scrolls, complete with tributes to loved ones and dancing, and the celebration of Shavuot with hours upon hours of Torah study and community interaction. I have no doubt that we will once again fill the halls of UOS with sounds of rejoicing and celebration.

Let us focus on repairing what was ruined and rededicating ourselves to what makes UOS so special, the community. After all, what is really special about us are the people that make up our community. That is what is indispensable – the building can always be fixed.

Rabbi Gelman

Help Houston – Donate to the OU’s Disaster Relief Fund

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