STARGAZING IS AN UNUSUAL BYPRODUCT OF NOT HAVING ELECTRIC POWER but as I walked out of the Young Israel of Wavecrest & Bayswater in the middle of last night, I couldn’t help noticing the awesome brightness of the constellation Orion high above the Rockaways. The shul, a place where thousands of people had come been throughout the long day for meals and clothing, or simple warmth and solace was now quiet. Some energetic volunteers remained inside cleaning and polishing the kitchen and dining rooms, restrooms and floors.
The clothing distribution center is currently silent. Normally a synagogue, now it is a large room where thousands of articles of clothing have already been given out and thousands more, including new blankets, pillows and towels are neatly organized. The dining room, normally the rear of the synagogue, has a dozen empty tables and more than a hundred empty chairs and is peaceful. Just hours ago, it was a vibrant hall with fine food and musical entertainment. The cook is resting now; re-energizing for another day in which he and his team will prepare twice its normal – in anticipation of the coming Sabbath day. Unseen – and still in full swing – are the dozens of volunteer security patrols, moving throughout our street-darkened neighborhoods. The command center for the Rockaway Citizens Security Patrol (RCSP) is quieter – with a sole young man coordinating the chatter of our dedicated guardians.
Today, just moments ago, visitors from numerous organizations including the UJA, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and JCC-RP witnessed breakfast for dozens in full swing, clothing and blankets moving out the doors. The JCC-RP was here on day one, providing breakfast. Today, I heard one of our activist volunteers say, “We really need a shipping container to securely lock provisions,” and a moment later, another volunteer was saying the exact same thing. Unsaid, at least within my earshot, was the obvious request for funds in order to provide the needs for days and weeks more of a vast community without power, heat, and gasoline.
And yet, the ‘stars,’the grassroots volunteers are so bright in Bayswater. The brightness at the YIWB can be seen from blocks away when approaching in the night darkness. It must be said that, despite the true misery and the horrific devastation, people of all stripes, backgrounds, cultures, colors, religions, and professions are joining together in a manner rarely seen.
Donate to the relief action. Visit www.yiwb.org and click the ‘donate’ button on the lower right hand side. One Hundred Percent of all donations to the YIWB-Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund made through www.yiwb.org will be used to help others. Credit card donations can also be called in by calling 718.327.8606 or checks mailed YIWB-Hurricane Relief Fund, 2716 Healy Avenue, Far Rockaway, NY 11691. Again, this tax deductible fund is for relief and recovery ONLY.