I am so proud of all the MTA talmidim who were able to go to Seagate and Far Rockaway to help with the Super Storm Sandy disaster clean up. We took three trips from MTA, with more possibly to come, and helped many families literally and figuratively dig out of the disaster. We will know about future trips if the need is still there, as we are in touch with the many organizations assisting those in need.

I live in Far Rockaway and I have helped many of my friends in the community.  I have also had the zchus  to lead  two MTA trips to Seagate.  I thought it was “cool” that on my first trip we had the opportunity to help Mordechai Ben David clean up, but I must share with you an incident from our second trip that took place this week with Rabbi Danto and the members of his shiur. This story was a life changing moment for me and explains why these trips are more than just a chesed activity; they are another learning opportunity, outside the classroom.

On the first trip to Seagate, Rabbi Gopin and some members of his shiur spent many hours helping clean out a basement of a woman who lost many seforim and books, a wine cellar, exercise equipment and much more. Before we left for the second trip he told me to try and see if she still needed help, as she made a wonderful impression on the boys and needed a lot more help even after the first trip left. Towards the end of our second trip, about ten members of Rabbi Danto’s shiur had a half hour until the bus left, so we called up this lady and she let us know “even a half hour would be a big help.” We all piled into her now almost totally empty basement to finish sorting through wet books to separate the shaimos and secular books. As we were bagging the books and sending the bags down a “fire line” to the outside, she looked up and said, “I am so happy this happened to me.” We all looked at her in wonderment and then she explained by saying, “If it were not for this experience, I would have never known how good Klal Yisroel is.” I told the boys it was worth all we did that day to learn this lesson in a way we could never do in the classroom. As I said to the people running the Seagate clean up as we left, “I hope we helped you with the little we did; I know you helped the students of MTA become better people.” We, of course, never want tragedies like this to occur, but I do know that in the event any of these students are called upon to be involved in clean-up again, they will be the first in line and will encourage others to join them.

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