Posted in News, on September 27, 2011

Turning Calamity Into Inspirtation: NECHAMA Partners with NCSY

Every morning, I read the news and see articles about an earthquake, a hurricane, or another natural disaster affecting an area that is struggling to get back on its feet. I often feel a strong desire to jump on a plane to go help. This initial feeling is followed by a reminder of how helpless I am, and even if I was able to get to the disaster site, I wouldn’t know where to start. NECHAMA, Jewish Response to Disaster changed that for me and countless others. Under the leadership of Rabbi Ethan Katz, I was given the opportunity to staff a leadership training mission with NCSY and Maayanot High School. On this trip, I along with 12 high school girls were able to learn that the disasters you read about are tragically very real. There are faces and stories behind the numbers, and most importantly that by smashing things with a sledgehammer, a group of girls from New Jersey can make a real Kiddush Hashem. As an advisor, I was privileged to see the effect that a mission with NECHAMA can bring both to the community and to the volunteers. The playing field shifted with the recent hurricane that affected cities all across the eastern seaboard. Disasters are supposed to happen in far off places, not in your own backyard of New Jersey. Teams of NCSYers as well as other volunteers came out to help throughout the 3 weeks NECHAMA was here. One of people who was affected by the hurricane is a third generation Italian woman. She worked as part of the team to salvage what she could from her positions. Towards the end of the day she stopped and looked at the giant pile of her destroyed belongings and with tear filled eyes said “ I don’t know how there could be any anti-semitism in the world knowing how amazing you all are.” NCSY together with NECHAMA create an educational and inspirational experience out of calamity, demonstrating to the teens our responsibility as Jews to act, and showing the communities that Jews do care

-Miriam Apter, NJ NCSY