This is a guest post by Jim Stein, Executive Director of NECHAMA: Jewish Response to Disaster.
Matt Roseberg is a Rabbinical Student at American Jewish University in California, a NECHAMA volunteer, a former Red Cross director. He recently wrote the following paragraph about Pesach and its relationship to NECHAMA:
In his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner writes, “The flood that devastates a town is not an ‘act of God,’ even if the insurance companies find it useful to call it that. But the efforts people make to save and restore lives, even for those who might be a total stranger to them, and the determination to rebuild their community after the flood waters have receded, do qualify as acts of God.”
This is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Its proximity to Passover is very interesting and timely. Numerous families in our area are now facing the reality that their homes will be devastated by severe flooding and/or the aftereffects of destructive tornadoes. It is out of the very Jewish obligation to help ease their suffering that NECHAMA-Jewish Response to Disaster finds its inspiration.
NECHAMA provides volunteer-based assistance to disaster victims free of charge and without regard to religion, race or economic circumstance. In the process, we provide our volunteers with meaningful opportunities to connect their hands-on experiences in performing Tikkun Olam to their values. In the process of restoring families to their homes following a disaster, we are frequently the only Jews these people and their families have ever met.
As we come together during Passover, let’s not forget to ease the suffering of those in need, both overseas in places like Japan and in our own backyards as well. This year, as we recount the story of our people’s liberation from slavery, we hope that our deeds of lovingkindness will include those who we can help with our own hands during this time of spring flooding throughout the Midwest.
This Passover, we hope that we can help give disaster victims the strength and solace they deserve.
We also hope that we can give meaningful experiences to all of the volunteers who work to sustain life and recover amidst tragedy, no matter where these occur.
Eds. Note: Sign up to volunteer your time, energy, and resources to help communities clean-up after floods, tornados, and other natural disasters on the NECHAMA website.