28 December 2005
Our Last Day of Working (Friday 23 December)
Friday morning consisted of Ben and I waking up late and making it over to daven shaharis at Chabad a little later then everybody else, talking to Gideon afterwards a little, and then heading off to Touro hospital, where some of the guys were staying, before starting our workday. At Touro, we actually picked up a guy who was working with us for the day, and we were to find out that he actually is an assistant editor for the Seattle Jewish newspaper. We first went to the house where the other car had gone to tear down the fence the previous day. Our task was to get the crossboards in place, and then to leave a few guys behind to put in boards, while the rest of us were to go back across the lake to finish up the job we had started Thursday. We did just that, in fact. During our travelling, especially the drives across Lake Pontchartrain, we had some interesting conversations with Josh, the newspaper guy, as he is not Orthodox, and probed us regarding various things in the Orthodox world, but more towards our personal thoughts, etc. It was quite interesting. After finishing up our work, and picking up the members of our group who we had left behind, we had enough time to check out Beth Israel, the Metairie shul which had been horribly devastated and is better known as the shul that Zaka members removed Torah scrolls while wading in water, which were shown in those photos. A lot of emptying out had been done by the Chabad group in town on Monday, of which my sister was a part, so when we got there, some amount of things, especially holy texts, had been removed (they even found a Torah scroll of which no one hadn't been previously taken care) - the texts were buried in a geniza, and they also removed the pews, which were probably trashed. The smell of mold was strong throughout, but the strongest in the sanctuary, which was awful. The books that had remained in one of the three libraries were in horrible condition. It was definitely a scene of a destroyed synagogue - something that reminded me of a desolate synagogue, something that was history - which it will likely be, as the water had reached around a dozen feet high, and the building will most likely be razed. We then hurried back to drop off some of our group to Touro Hospital, while Ben and I went to go find where all of us were staying. Once we found it, I showered, then went to pick up some of the rest of the group, while Ben showered. We got there with just enough time to drive over to Chabad for minha. Then shabbas came.
Posted by Drew Kaplan