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Donations, Volunteers Needed in Sandy’s Hardest-Hit Regions

Monday’s chilly morning found 20 Yeshiva University students running up and down a 17-story building in Far Rockaway. Accompanied by Shay Schachter, assistant rabbi of Far Rockaway’s White Shul, the students carried hot food, donated by Chap-A-Nosh caterers, up a high-rise for handicapped senior citizens. “These people have been without food for several days,” Schachter explained. “They were sticking out their hands as if they had never seen food.” Others lacked basic medications, he said.

And while New York and its outer-lying regions begin to show signs of life, hard-hit areas like the the Five Towns, the Rockaways, Belle Harbor and Seagate will require a slow recovery period—the extent of the damage is simply shocking. “Most people don’t realize just how devastating this storm was,” said Schachter ’11R, ’11A. “I met with FEMA agents yesterday in Far Rockaway and they themselves were speechless about the amount of damage they saw. And even just in my shul—homes, businesses, hundreds of thousands of dollars, all lost. We’re getting constant calls for emergency medical care and it’s a miracle we’ve been able to respond in time to all.”

On Tuesday, a busload of students from Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy-Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) helped out in Far Rockaway while Yeshiva College students volunteered in Belle Harbor.

But perhaps what’s just as astounding is the community response. At Sh’or Yoshuv, the local Jewish community has packed an entire gym with donated clothing, coats, and shoes, each sorted and organized by type and size, packaged and given to those who have lost their homes. “You have to see what’s going on there,” residents insist, shaking their heads in disbelief. Brach’s, the local supermarket, has given $40,000 worth of food to hurricane evacuees, and in the past few days, Achiezer Community Resource Center raised $2 million from the Orthodox community alone.

Volunteers are still urgently needed throughout the Far Rockaway area. Please contact Rabbi Shay Schachter at shayschachter@gmail.com  for more information on how you can help.

For more information on other relief efforts in the New York region (both donation drives and volunteer needs), email Elana Honick at honick@yu.edu.

Read President Richard M. Joel’s letter to the Yeshiva University community.

The author, Avital Chizhik, is a recent graduate of Yeshiva University. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tablet and Haaretz.