OU Relief Fund Brings Assistance on Thanksgiving Day

24 Nov 2012


From left: The entertainer Mordechai Ben David; Yanky Elefant; Gerald Schreck, presenting check from OU Hurricane Fund; Rabbi Pinchas Meisels; and J.B. Walhandler.

It was truly a day for Thanksgiving at the Seagate residential community on the tip of Brooklyn facing the Atlantic Ocean, when Gerald Schreck of Brooklyn, National Vice President of the Orthodox Union and Chairman of its Communications and Marketing Committee, visited the stricken enclave and presented a significant check from the OU Hurricane Relief Fund to the Seagate Hurricane Relief Fund.

The disbursement from the OU Fund is one is a lengthening series that has been taking place since the Fund was established following the terrible devastation of Hurricane Sandy. With its location as a gate at the sea, Seagate was in a particularly vulnerable spot when the storm surge hit.

After the storm, the Seagate community formed a Committee with a Board of Governors and a Board of Directors to establish and administer their own Hurricane Relief Fund. “We are extremely gratified by the OU’s gift,” declared Esther Zicherman, a member of the Committee who is serving as Public Relations Coordinator for relief efforts. The committee is currently deliberating how to allocate the funds,” she added.

“On a day that our entire country was giving thanks, the small enclave called Seagate was particularly thankful” Ms. Zicherman said. “Our brothers and sisters of the OU gifted us with their kindness and generosity in the midst of our true devastation and heartache. As we stood in the rubble holding a check it reinforced our gratitude to our country, our people particularly the Orthodox Union, and most of all God.”

OU lay and professional leadership has been traveling through hard hit areas such as Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, the Five Towns in Nassau, Belle Harbor in the Rockaways, with trips planned to devastated Long Beach and its neighboring barrier island communities of Atlantic Beach and Lido Beach. (Note, please, the word “beach.” Any community in New York/New Jersey with the word “beach” or “sea” in its name was a victim of what has come to be called “Super Storm Sandy.”)

On Friday, the day after the presentation at Seagate, OU President Dr. Simcha Katz declared, “Through the Hurricane Relief Committee chaired by Emanuel Adler, more than $350,000 has been given to date to stricken communities, with plans to distribute an additional $200,000 in the next few weeks. Recipients have included Achiezer, the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, and synagogues through their Rabbis’ Discretionary Funds. In addition, we are arranging for gifts of Sifrei Torah and seforim where they are needed to replace those that have been rendered unusable.

“Our concept regarding relief is broad and is driven by needs, not ideology,” Dr. Katz emphasized. “OU shuls know they were helped, but our assistance transcends affiliations. The Seagate story demonstrates that, as well as the Met Council and Achiezer gifts.”

Mr. Schreck, who brought with him the check, noted that J.B. Walhandler, a member of the Seagate Va’ad, “couldn’t stop praising all the people from various organizations who came to the community. When I mentioned to Rabbi Pinchas Meisels, the Dayan of Seagate, that the OU is more than kashrut and that our reach encompasses hundreds of synagogues and a vast number of programs, he was astounded. Our tent got a bit wider today.”

Contributions may be made to the OU Hurricane Fund at www.ou.org.

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