Photo Essay: NJ NCSY Volunteers in Minnesota to Help in Flood Relief Work

26 Oct 2010


The Minnesota Mitzvah Men have returned from their latest mission. Last week, Jewish teen leaders from New Jersey NCSY volunteered in two Minnesota communities to help clean-out homes and at Oronoco Park, which were ruined from the three to six feet of water that was a result of an overflow of the Zumbro, a tributary of the mighty Mississippi River.

The fifteen volunteers are currently students at Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck (TABC); Teaneck High School; Fairlawn High School; and Northern Highlands High School in Allendale. In addition to Rabbi Ethan Katz, Assistant Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY, who led the group, the trip was staffed by Rabbi Michael Hoenig, NCSY Advisor, of Teaneck and Rabbi Josh Kahn, Dean of Student Life at TABC, of Bergenfield.

The group worked closely with NECHAMA: Jewish Response to Disaster, an organization that provides direct support to communities recovering from natural disasters.

Declared Rabbi Katz, “This was our most amazing trip yet. I am extremely proud of our students, who tackled any assignment they were given with tremendous spirit and eagerness to assist and improve the communities in Minnesota. They truly arose to the occasion and worked as a team to accomplish the set tasks; they were a tremendous Kiddish Hashem (sanctification of God’s Name).”

Rabbi Michael Hoenig (center) leads task force cleaning a house with serious water damage in Albert Lea with TABC student Netanel Lederer.

Zachary Margulies of TABC removes debris from a home in Albert Lea.

In Hammond, a community with a population of 200 residents, TABC student Avi Strauss and Northern Highlands High School student Phillip Katz remove damaged floor boards from the only grocery store.

Avi Strauss loads a truck with insulation removed from the Hammond grocery store.

The Oronoco Park playground gets prepped for reopening for community children after water levels reached the bottom of the red roofs during the height of the flooding. Levi Ryballov, (on top) of Fairlawn High School, and Phillip Katz, wash the top of the playground.

Removing dry wall from the City Hall in Hammond: from left, TABC student Jonathan Packer, Rabbi Ethan Katz, TABC student Oren Elsas.

Jonathan Holzsager (rear), of Fairlawn High School, and Oren Elsas, remove dry wall from City Hall in Hammond.