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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Bruriah teamed with NCSY for another unforgettable mission to help New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) put the finishing touches on homes still being restored from damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Hannah Grayman (‘20) explained her experience, “With the hard work I put in and the inspiring staff, this NCSY New Orleans chesed mission was a once in a lifetime experience. I became aware of each person’s enormous ability to make an impact, whether through building up a community or a friend’s confidence. There are no words to describe the recognition I now have of what is truly important. No other experience could have brought me such clarity that our ability to make an impact in our daily lives is right in front of us.”

The students were accompanied by Sarah Kesler, educator from Bruriah; Rabbi Ethan Katz, NCSY regional director; Sapir Kent, NCSY/Bruriah alum and Rachel Zemble, NCSY coordinator. Upon arrival in New Orleans on a sunny February morning, the volunteers were given instructions to put up the fascia of a house, paint it, build the front steps and ready the A/C board. Sandy Nussbaum (‘20) said, “This trip has opened my eyes to the world around me and has given me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and make a difference in the lives of those around me.”

The day culminated at the site of the old Beth Israel Shul and cemetery where sifrei kodesh and sifrei Torah were buried after being destroyed during Katrina. On their second day, the group arrived at Green Light New Orleans ready to change the world by changing light bulbs in underprivileged homes. “A lightbulb went off in my head when I realized that people still needed help. I’m so happy I was able to contribute in such an inspiring way,” said Shira Rosenblum (‘19). The volunteers also got involved in Green Light’s other project—building backyard vegetable gardens, which increases access to fresh food in food-insecure neighborhoods and helps shape healthy eating habits. Rabbi Gabe Greenberg, Rabbi Posternock and the New Orleans Beth Israel community graciously hosted the group for Shabbat. Mindy Benovitz (‘20) summed up her volunteer experience this way, “It was an experience that definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to be so proud of my Judaism.”