Oklahoma City’s Chabad organizes Dallas youth in Oklahoma relief mission
Published: May 28th, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Chabad Jewish Community Center of north Oklahoma City organized a weekend blitz of some three dozen teenagers from the Dallas-Fort Worth area who deployed into devastated areas in Moore and other communities.
Jewish youth from the Lone Star State assisted local families in clearing rubble and retrieving family treasures from some of the thousands of homes damaged or destroyed in the May 20 tornado.
In interviews with CapitolBeatOK, Sammy and Jordan — two young men in the Texas contingent — said over and over they could not find words to describe adequately the flattened homes they saw block after block in Moore. Sammy related, “These were people in need, but so hopeful. I hope never again to see this kind of devastation.”
The storm, initially designated an EF4, was upgraded to “5” on the revised Fujita scale, a scientific measurement categorizing the power and intensity of tornadoes.
One young woman, Logan, said, “Pictures cannot convey what this devastation is like.” Her normal Sunday routine is to do homework – but Logan spent Sunday of Memorial Day weekend helping families find treasures that had not been blown away or damaged beyond repair in several rainfalls that followed the original storm.
Valorie told CapitolBeatOK, “Instead of resting at home, I had the most amazing experience, meeting people from Pennsylvania, New York and Iowa who were there to help Oklahoma City, Moore and Little Axe.”
A common theme of comments from the Texas group was how unsettling it was to find in the destroyed homes baby pictures, clothing, trinklets and a variety of items that were evidence those who survived had lost all or most material possessions in the storm.
One of the youth leaders told CapitolBeatOK, “As Jews, we have seen destructive periods, awful times that came before a time for rebuilding. In Oklahoma, we showed ways in which we cared and we want to help them move forward. Moore is going to rebuild and we want to be among those who are with them every step of the way. “
One of the young men reflected, “We showed we cared. I’m not going to go back to life as normal. It is so important at a time like this to act, not just to talk. “
Berel Namdar helped Oklahoma City’s Chabad Center organize relief efforts in the region.
Namdar told CapitolBeatok the Texas volunteers concentrated in residential areas near Moore Hospital. He said, “There was nothing greater than to witness the resolve of these Oklahoma people, and their gratefulness to everyone who was there helping. They were like a point of light, a beam of light in the darkness.
“Their optimism was infectious. They kept insisting they would be OK and that they were grateful to us for being there. That light, it impressed me. It pushed away the darkness and I won’t forget that.”
Rabbi Ovadia Goldman of Oklahoma City has coordinated a massive Chabad relief drive in Oklahoma.
For the weekend visit of the Dallas youth, he worked with Rabbis Michel Lomner, Meir Tannenbaum and Yaakov Rosenblatt, leaders of NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth), an arm of the Orthodox Union in Judaism.
On Sunday, the Chabad Community Center held a kosher barbeque for the Dallas visitors at its facility on Hefner Road, some 20 miles straight north from the devastation in Moore.
The center has regularly held this daily ritual near day’s end, an event for volunteers who have deployed to Moore, Newcastle, Little Axe, Shawnee and other locations of tornado damage after the May 19-20 storms.
Rabbi Goldman told CapitolBeatOK, “We are asking people to help us, so we can do our part in the storm recovery.” The Oklahoma City Chabad leaders are in contact with their worldwide network; the local link is www.jewishokc.com/relief.