The hurricane wreaked havoc on our homes, our schools, and our shuls. Our community is still trying to recover from the damage caused by Sandy. Through all the chaos and destruction, one cannot help but notice the Jewish organizations that have been in the forefront of the relief efforts. Their kindness and generosity has saved lives. All of them deserve recognition for their extraordinary efforts. But there is one that Mesivta Yam HaTorah personally witnessed and would like to publicly thank.
The mesivta is presently housed in the Young Israel of Bayswater and they were glad to hear that the building was not impacted by the hurricane. MYT had hoped to start school soon after the hurricane and get back to normal, but little did they know that the shul had become the center for the relief effort. Meals, clothing, beds, etc. were all being provided out of the shul. It reminded the MYT administrators of the story of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter when, during the cholera epidemic, he turned the yeshiva into a hospital for the sick. The shul, under the leadership of Rabbi Eliezer Feuer, became a safe haven for those impacted by the storm, and the school office became the base for the Rockaway Citizen’s Patrol.
MYT was told that they could come back to school as long as the boys would be available to help out. On the one hand they were eager to go back to school; on the other hand how could they run a school with all the relief efforts going on in the shul? They decided to return, and the moment the boys arrived they were put to work serving meals, helping people clean out their houses, and unloading trucks. As one student put it, “Every time I try to go to class someone grabs me to help out.” The school became part of the relief efforts. What was once a classroom became a bedroom for a family without heat; the boys hachanah for shiur, normally a mussar seder, was replaced by putting away beds. MYT was so proud of the students’ positive attitude toward helping others and their ability to focus in class amidst all the turmoil.
Now all is calm and school is finally back to normal, but it will never be the same. Over these past few weeks the students witnessed ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary heroics. They observed a magnitude of kindness they have never seen. They experienced a care and concern for those in need that will be talked about for years to come. They experienced the Jewish people at their best. They all walked away from this with a renewed commitment to doing chesed and proud to be associated with the Young Israel of Bayswater. Thank you, the Young Israel of Bayswater, for giving them the opportunity to partake in this tremendous mitzvah.