5 Jewish Ways to Help After Hurricane Harvey
As the full magnitude of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey becomes clear, ReformJudaism.org’s parent organization, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), is mobilizing to provide support to those impacted by this powerful storm. Our prayers are with those who are in harm’s way, including the brave first responders who are putting their lives on the line to help their neighbors.
Recovery for a storm of this magnitude will take months, if not years. We are working hard to provide resources to affected families, and we encourage you to do the same. Here is some of what we are doing, and how you can chip in:
1. Send gift cards to Houston-area Reform synagogues.
The URJ reports that Houston's Reform congregations are collecting gift cards (physical, not electronic) to distribute to those in their communities who face the greatest need. They request gift cards to stores such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s, as well as the major grocery stores in the area, Kroger and H-E-B. These donations can be mailed to any Houston-area Reform congregation for distribution; a list is available in this blog post.
2. Donate to organizations providing on-the-ground relief.
There are many organizations who are doing the hard work of supporting affected families and rebuilding, including:
- NECHAMA: A Jewish Response to Disaster
- Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
- The Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund of the Greater Houston Community Foundation
We encourage you to make a donation to one of these organizations if you can, or to donate to another organization that is doing on-the-ground work.
3. Say a prayer for Texas.
There are a number of prayers and poems that can be recited in such troubling times, whether individually or as a family, or in your congregations and communities:
- Recite the Mourner's Kaddish for those who perished in the storm and the Mi Shebeirach (Prayer for Healing) for those who are struggling physically, emotionally, and otherwise.
- Reform liturgist Alden Solovy wrote “A Prayer for Houston After Hurricane Harvey.”
- Rabbi Zoe Klein penned "How Much Water?" a heart-rending poem in the wake of this disaster.
4. Stay updated
News outlets are reporting and will continue to report on the affect that Hurricane Harvey is having on Jewish families, including:
- JTA reports on Jewish families in Houston who have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
- NOLA.com shares stories of individuals who have experienced the devastating effects of both Hurricane Katrina and Harvey, including Jason Plotkin, program director at Houston Reform synagogue Congregation Emanu El.
- JTA shares the stories of Greene Family Camp and others that have opened to provide temporary housing and other relief efforts.
5. Support the Reform community's relief efforts.
URJ Greene Family Camp, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Bruceville, TX, has partnered with other local organizations to provide varying aspects of storm efforts. The camp itself is open to displaced storm victims seeking shelter, and for the past week, Hurricane Harvey Houston Day Camp has been providing local children with the opportunity to have fun with other kids while giving their parents the time and space to take care of post-storm-related responsibilities. For more information about this and other relief programs near Houston, please visit Greene Family Camp's website. The URJ has been overwhelmed with generosity from the Jewish cummunity and is currently evaluating options for further funding needs. Please stay tuned for news in the coming days.
We continue, too, to stay abreast of developments related to Hurricane Irma, currently threatening Florida, and will provided updated information as appropriate.