Ortho­dox Jewry Unites to Help Dev­as­tated Hous­ton Com­mu­nity

The Jewish Voice - - NATIONAL - By: Shimmy Blum

The im­ages of the dev­as­ta­tion caused by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey has haunted view­ers from around the world, but for those in the eye of this “500 year storm” the dev­as­ta­tion is in­cal­cu­la­ble. Hous­ton has a siz­able Jewish com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing many Ortho­dox fam­i­lies. Hun­dreds of the com­mu­nity’s mem­bers have seen their homes de­stroyed, with much of the dam­age not cov­ered by in­sur­ance. The emo­tional and fi­nan­cial toll this has taken on their fam­i­lies can­not be de­scribed.

In ad­di­tion to all the trauma and pain, these fam­i­lies are lit­er­ally lack­ing food for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. Much of the food in Hous­ton, in stores and ware­houses, etc., has been de­stroyed. Kosher food is even more scarce. The pri­mary lo­cal kosher re­tailer is sub­merged in eight feet of wa­ter.

As a re­sult, a group of Jews from Texas and be­yond im­me­di­ately got to work to en­sure that the Hous­ton com­mu­nity would en­joy hot kosher meals. A long list of in­di­vid­u­als, or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses are as­sist­ing in this ef­fort, in­clud­ing Rabbi Sho­leyKlein of Dal­las Kosher su­per­vi­sion; Dovid Geld­man, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Ortho­dox Jewish Cham­ber of Com­merce’s Texas branch; Rabbi Aryeh Feigen­baum of Con­gre­ga­tion OhrHaTo­rah; Rabbi Ariel Rack­ovsky of Con­gre­ga­tion ShaareTe­filla; Dal­las Area To­rah As­so­ci­a­tion Kol­lel; Jewish Fed­er­a­tion of Greater Dal­las; Hous­ton Kashruth As­so­ci­a­tion; Agu­dathIs­rael of Amer­ica; the Ortho­dox Union; South Side Sand­wich Shop of Lake­wood; and many more.

Two Dal­las based food es­tab­lish­ments, both mem­bers of the Ortho­dox Jewish Cham­ber of Com­merce, were par­tic­u­larly in­stru­men­tal to car­ry­ing out this ef­fort: Sim­cha Kosher Cater­ing, led by Low­ell Michel­son, and Texas Kosher BBQ, led by

Chaim Goldfeder.

As Mr. Goldfeder ex­plains, you can­not over­es­ti­mate how com­fort­ing a de­li­cious hot meal is for some­one in pain. Ceci Katz and Ruthy Henkin of A Taste of the World cater­ing do­nated a sig­nif­i­cant amount of food for the up­com­ing Shab­bos dis­tri­bu­tion.

Sim­cha Kosher Cater­ing pre­pared and dis­trib­uted 2,000 Shab­bos meals. Texas Kosher BBQ will be pre­par­ing and dis­tribut­ing1,000 hot kosher meals a day for as long as nec­es­sary – at a min­i­mum for a full week. Mr. Geld­man and the pro­pri­etors of these two es­tab­lish­ments are do­ing all this ar­du­ous, round the clock work for no com­pen­sa­tion. “Texas is known for be­ing ‘big,’ and that in­cludes peo­ple hav­ing big hearts,” says Dovid. “We are work­ing to­gether to ease peo­ple’s pain and pro­vide them with de­li­cious hot meals.”

This ef­fort, par­tic­u­larly un­der these cir­cum­stances, is ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult. The proper food prod­ucts, equip­ment and truck­ing needed to be pro­cured, along with lots of man­power. As­sis­tance from the U.S. Na­tional Guard was re­quired in or­der to ar­range for trans­porta­tion to Hous­ton, with many of the road­ways flooded and/or closed.

“No task is too dif­fi­cult when in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses unite and co­or­di­nate to ac­com­plish on be­half of the com­mon good,” says Duvi Honig, Founder and CEO of the Ortho­dox Jewish Cham­ber of Com­merce.

“That is the spirit of the Cham­ber’s mis­sion,” adds Dr. Joseph Frager, VP of the Cham­ber. “We are very proud of what our mem­bers have been able to ac­com­plish on be­half of the peo­ple of Hous­ton, who have en­dured so much.”

L-R Rabbi Ariel Rack­ovsky, Rabbi Aryeh Feigen­baum, Rabbi Sho­ley Klein, Bradley Laye, Chaim Goldfeder, David Geld­man - Di­rec­tor of the Ortho­dox Jewish Cham­ber Of Com­merce Dal­las , Aaron Kluger

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