A group of 6 MTA Seniors embarked on a relief mission through the Orthodox Union this week, providing critical assistance to the Houston Jewish community impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Under the supervision of Executive Director Shuey Jacoby, the students spent three days helping families whose homes experienced significant flooding with packing up and moving their belongings as well as demolishing the home interiors in preparation for necessary renovations.  “This trip was extremely meaningful for our students, who witnessed first-hand not only the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, but also the emotional impact it had on the families that were affected,” said Mr. Jacoby.  “Despite the long days of physical labor, the boys showed an unrelenting work ethic and tremendous spirit.  It was very clear that our presence was greatly appreciated by the community.”  

After a particularly long day of demolition, the students were reluctant to leave the home they were working on because there was still a lot left to do. Despite their exhaustion, the boys insisted on returning after a brief break to daven Mincha and Maariv to finish the job.  The homeowners were appreciative of their efforts and remarked that they can never repay the boys for the incredible kindness they have shown.

“The trip to Houston was an eye-opening experience,” said MTA Senior Akiva Cooper of Teaneck, NJ.  “It was the first time I fully understood the gravity and devastation of post-Hurricane life.  Seeing pictures of homes destroyed by wind and rain is one thing, but eating dinner in community centers for victims, ripping out the moldy walls and warped floors of real homes, and ultimately truly getting to know the people whose lives are now forever changed, is another much more impactful experience.”   Eitan Sklar of Teaneck, NJ said, “We got to spend two days doing amazing things for amazing people.  That’s what it’s all about.”  MTA Senior Ezra Emerson of Bergenfield, NJ added, “This experience taught me to be more thankful to Hashem for my safety and for everything I have.  I am also grateful to MTA for providing us with the opportunity to help the families that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey.”

The students worked alongside other volunteers from the tri-state area.  One volunteer was so impressed by their middos and efforts that he pledged a donation to MTA in the group’s honor.  “At MTA, our rebbeim and faculty teach our students the importance of helping others and feeling a sense of communal responsibility, not only in our own communities, but in communities worldwide,” said MTA Head of School Rabbi Joshua Kahn.  “Experiences like the relief mission to Houston help us instill the value of taking on leadership roles within the Jewish community and making a positive impact on the lives of others.”


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