18 December 2005
Arrival in the South
We arrived today in New Orleans - there were six of us so far (another one will be joining us tomorrow and a wife of one of the guys will be arriving on Tuesday), we rented a couple of cars, went to Kosher Cajun - a part store, part deli in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, where they are trying to get back on track (the owner said they usually have a staff of ten, but currently have only three working), had some food -which was quite delicious, then set out towards Biloxi, MS.
On the way over, it was interesting to see some of the damage done - there was more in MS than in LA. The damage that sticks out most in my mind is that of the billboards - there were three in a row that the "boards" part of them were just the metal - no signs - and leaning in a certain direction. As much as that was pretty surprising, we also saw one that was snapped in half - not the "boards" part, mind you, but the steel pole holding it up(!).
We got to Biloxi in time for the ending up of the pre-Hanukah party of the only synagogue in Biloxi (a [liberal(?)] conservative shul). The synagogue, however, of this congregation was horribly destroyed, as only their sanctuary - which was hit fairly well - was the only thing left of their shul. So we were there, spreading the cheer, etc. Then we registered with Hands on USA, the group running the rebuilding efforts here, and started moving our stuff in.
After moving our stuff in, we went to Winn-Dixie, a local supermarket, and even stopped at Wal-Mart (I [heart] Wal-Mart - I really miss it, we don't have such conveniences in NYC), before heading back. We had a text study led by Michael Schultz (pictured) about giving to gentiles or not, and if so, how much, though it was a cursory shiur, it was quite appropriate.
It's an interesting place and atmosphere here - there are roughly a hundred people, with varying ages, though I would imagine most are in their twenties, but that's a rough guess. We're in a building attached to a church, but it's hard to describe the physical outlay of the place. In any event, people are sleeping in sleeping bags, often on blow-up mattresses, some of them in tents - all of this is on the second floor, like a balcony overhanging the eating and meeting area all around - while some people are sleeping in tents also outside. There are three showers - one inside, two outside. Lights out and quiet time starts at 10 pm, and we plan on waking up around 7ish or before and heading out at 8 to go out and help clean up. :)
Posted by Drew Kaplan