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September 09, 2005

Salazar Misses the Point

Senator Ken Salazar sent out an email appealing for aid to Katrina victims containing the following line:

The victims of this terrible tragedy love this country, but their country has let them down.

No, Senator, their government has let them down. Specifically, their state and local governments.

Their country, on the other hand, has responded admirably and generously.

Posted by joshuasharf at 06:55 PM | TrackBack

September 07, 2005

The Indispensible Mark Steyn

In yesterday's Telegraph:

On 9/11, the federal government failed the people; last week, local and state government failed the people. On 9/11, they stuck to the 30-year-old plan; last week, they didn't bother implementing the state-of-the-art 21st-century plan. Why argue about which level of bureaucracy you prefer to be let down by?

My mistake was to think that the citizenry of the Big Easy would rise to the great rallying cry of Todd Beamer: "Are you ready, guys? Let's roll!" Instead, the spirit of the week was summed up by a gentleman called Mike Franklin, taking time out of his hectic schedule of looting to speak to the Associated Press: "People who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society."

Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.

Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.

New Orleans is a party town in the middle of a welfare swamp and, like many parties, it doesn't look so good when someone puts the lights up.

Posted by joshuasharf at 10:15 AM | TrackBack

September 04, 2005

NOLA's List

Federation of New Orleans is maintaining a list of Jewish evacuees & refugees, and their locations and contact information.

So far, to nobody's surprise, the main destinations are Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and Memphis.

Denver did seem to pick up one gentleman, and one family seems to have just kept on driving until the language sounded familiar, and ended up in Montreal.

Also, Diane Brezner of Houston's BJE tells me that long-term plans are being developed, and promises to keep me informed.

Posted by joshuasharf at 04:15 PM | TrackBack

Atlanta Swings Into Action

This morning, I received this email (slightly edited below) from my brother-in-law Steve Filreis, in Atlanta.

Yesterday afternoon, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta convened an emergency conference call with professional leadership from local agencies, synagogues, shelters and camps. We discussed specific ways our community will be assisting evacuees from the Gulf Coast communities with housing, education and job needs. The outpouring from our community has been extraordinary and our network of Jewish community agencies, schools, synagogues and organizations will work together to most effectively help those in need. Our community agencies, synagogues and organizations are working in close partnership to respond to this crisis:

1. JF&CS is responding to a wide variety of issues for evacuees now in Atlanta, including medical, financial, counseling and job placement needs. They are also assembling a volunteer corps prepared to assist in many different ways;

2. The Atlanta Rabbinical Association will coordinate with all area synagogues the collection of names of volunteer hosts willing to house evacuees for the short and long term and forward this information to the MJCCA's Housemate Match program; The MJCCA is also prepared to open its health and wellness facilities to evacuees

3. Atlanta area day schools and the MJCCA pre-school have begun accepting students from New Orleans. CJEe is serving as a clearinghouse for information and coordination;

4. Camps Barney, Coleman and Ramah Darom are prepared to offer their facilities if needed as temporary shelters;

5. The Cohen Home has offered temporary shelter for evacuees, along with the Congregation Shearith Israel Shelter;

6. Hillels of Georgia is preparing to coordinate student volunteers;

7. Congregation Or Hadash reports that 50 members are prepared to host evacuees in their homes;

8. The AA Synagogue is hosting a bat mitzvah of a New Orleans girl in September; other synagogues have begun discussing ways of offering High Holiday tickets to evacuees;

9. The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is representing the Atlanta Jewish community in working directly with United Way and other Atlanta non-profits on community-wide responses;

10. Also, since this, The Temple Night Shelter and the Shearith Israel Night Shelter are open for Storm refugees.

11. Beth Jacob is referring offers of help to Susan Metz at JF&CS

Here's how you can help:

* To make an online contribution with a credit card, click here: Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

* To send a check, make it payable to "JFGA", put "Hurricane Katrina" in the memo line, and send to Randy Gorod, JFGA, 1440 Spring Street, NW, Atlanta, 30309;

* If you need help - or know someone who does - contact Yael Stein, LCSW, at Jewish Family & Career Services: 770-677-9305 or ystein@jfcs-atlanta.org;

* If you want to help, or to "adopt" an evacuee family, contact Susan Metz at JF&CS: 770-677-9329 or smetz@jfcs-atlanta.org;

* If you are able to host evacuees in your home - for either a short time (less than a month) or an extended period (up to 6 months), contact Rita Zadoff at the MJCCA's Housemate Match at 770-395-2625 or housemate@atlantajcc.org

Posted by joshuasharf at 03:58 PM | TrackBack

Media Alert

I'll be on John Andrews's Backbone Radio on 710 KNUS this (Sunday) evening at 5:15 PM Mountain Time, discussing the varying blogospheric reactions to Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.

Posted by joshuasharf at 08:53 AM | TrackBack

Long-Term Assistance

Even though my family is from Newport News, Virginia, I never really understood the unique nature of the experience of Jews in the south until reading Eli Evans's The Provincials.

So I've had a soft spot for the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. Now, the museum is planning to turn its extensive knowledge of the remaining Southern Jewish communities toward post-Katrina rebuilding efforts:

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) has been inundated with calls and emails from congregations and individuals from around the country asking what they can do, how can they help, etc. As can be seen by the national news accounts the relief effort has not fully taken shape yet due to the immensity of the disaster and the inability of the agencies to actually assess the next steps. As the Institute is regionally based and physically located in Jackson, Mississippi we are well positioned to help channel funds directly to our communities in need.

To that end, the Institute has established the:

Institute of Southern Jewish Life – Katrina Relief Fund.

The various communities of faith are and have established funds to administer through their own churches. We will do the same but, of course, the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam certainly comes into play here with a percentage of the contributions that flow in being allocated to secular agencies as well. Funds will be segregated from the normal flow of dollars and contributions to the ISJL. Obviously the accounting will be transparent and no fees will go to the ISJL. Again, no administrative fees will be assessed insuring 100% of dollars raised going to the effort.

ISJL is a 501(c)3; therefore, all funds are fully deductible to the fullest extent of the law. We are grounded within the impacted region and we have contact with the Jewish communities that are in need The process would be to work through the communities’ rabbinic, lay, and where present, agency leadership for humanitarian needs first and then assistance with rebuilding if applicable of Synagogues that may have been damaged.

This tragedy is of indescribable magnitude. The ISJL will be a force in the recovery and serve as a major conduit of funds in and out from around the country and abroad. National agencies will be seeking local contacts for the dispersement of those funds raised on their part. Due to our strategic geographic location and contacts throughout the United States we gladly take on this role of assistance. We are proud of our ability to serve in this very difficult time for all of us.

Our hearts and prayers go to all of those affected and whose lives are forever changed by this natural disaster.

Macy B. Hart
Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life
P. O. Box 16528
Jackson, MS 39236
Phone 601/362-6357
Fax 601/366-6293

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Posted by joshuasharf at 12:08 AM | TrackBack

September 03, 2005

Clothes Needed

Temple B'nai Israel in Baton Rouge needs packages of clothes - oversized t-shirts, shorts,shoes - and baby items- clothes, diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, etc.

You can send packages directly to:
Rabbi Weinstein at B'nai Israel
3354 Kleinert Ave. Baton Rouge, LA 70806.
The Temple phone is 225-343-0111

From reader Stephanie Seldin Howard.

Posted by joshuasharf at 11:17 PM | TrackBack

September 02, 2005

Memphis Steps Up

I just got off the phone with Jeffrey Feld of the Memphis Allied Jewish Federation, and he described a community that's coming together in a big way to provide appropriate services to the hundreds of Jewish refugees and evacuees that the city is seeing. They appear to be trying to find long-term housing for people, which is a good sign, as well as placing kids in the appropriate school, rustling up clothing and food, and paying for medicines until insurance information can be reconstructed.

Feld estimated that about 5,000 of New Orleans's 10,000 Jews were known to be in Houston, with Memphis taking in hundreds.

When I asked him what they needed, he interrupted the "?" at the end of my question to say, "Money." The fact is, Memphis has an abundance of stuff. I'm sure that local merchants are donating plenty of items. But over the longer term, people will need to pay for things. So right now, money.

You can email Jeffrey at jfeld@memjfed.org, or call him at (901) 767-7100.

Don't be shy about contacting specific local organizations as well, such as synagogues and social service agencies. Each one has an appropriate and sudden role to play.

Posted by joshuasharf at 03:14 PM | TrackBack

Orthodox Union

The OU link is now a joint effort among the Orthodox Union, Yeshiva University, and the Rabbinical Council of America.

Here's a videotaped appeal from Rabbi Yisroel Schiff of New Orleans's Beth Israel Congregation to YU.

Posted by joshuasharf at 02:57 PM | TrackBack

Jewish Community Responses to Katrina

The response to Katrina from the Jewish Comunity sadly seems to be suffering from a lack of organization. Aside from the Chabad webpage, which includes a blog and appears to have been planned years in advance (< Fill in Hurricane Name Here >), there appears to be no central location for coordinating a national response to a regional problem.

However, that isn't keeping people from trying. Reader Stephanie Seldin Howard of Santa Clarita, CA writes that her son's junior high is adopting a family who's relocating there, and that she herself is donating furniture to that effort. She's also got a boy scout troop, a cub scout troop, and a reform congregation who want to help, but have so far no place to direct their efforts.

Reader Judi Cohen of Greensboro, NC is offering her home to a Jewish family who needs a place to stay. Contact her here.

At the same time, Houston Federation has organized a list of contacts for channeling specific goods and services.

And New Orleans Federation is still trying to locate people who need help. Email adamfederation@yahoo.com to get in touch. (Note: that email address has changed from a prior posting. The one here is the latest.)

Posted by joshuasharf at 12:06 PM | TrackBack

Differences in Style

Rwanda? Think about that for a second. Are there not better analogies? This is not centrally-organized genocide, where the great powers were warned in advance, and where the planning had taken months, if not years. This is a thugocracy filling a vacuum. South Central comes to mind. (As I recall, people blamed the police chief, not the President.) Maybe New York 1977. (As I recall, people blamed the Mayor, not the President.) Not Rwanda.

And if one is looking for overseas examples, why Rwanda? Why not Bosnia, Kosovo, Sudan? I suppose Pol Pot is only good enough for our soldiers. (Only the best.) Could it be that they - good Leftists that they are - chose Rwanda for a reason? Or did it just, you know, leap to mind?

They should be ashamed of themselves.

As for the rest of their commentary, start with the above post and just keep scrolling. You'll find an isolated link suggesting a Red Cross contribution, and a great deal of carping about the Federal Government. Apparently, that's about as far as their notion of "community" extends.

Now consider the response of the RMA, of which I am immensely proud. An actual analysis of responsibility for crisis response and advance planning. Followed by link after link after link after link after link of community-based suggestions.

Some of us have even posted pages of links.

Some carp. Others offer help.

The Regressives, with their humor deficit fed by a self-righteousness surplus, make it hard to take them seriously. But sometimes, the contrasts are instructive.

Posted by joshuasharf at 11:37 AM | TrackBack

September 01, 2005

Katrina Damage Update - Jewish Community

The Jewish Federation of Seattle has sent out the following damage report from New Orleans:

There are almost 10,000 full-time Jewish residents in New Orleans, not to
mention a large population of Jewish students attending colleges in the
area. Approximately half of the full time residents evacuated their homes
in advance of the storm, but not everyone was able to leave. The vast
majority of the homes of members of the Jewish community have been
destroyed. As of today, 300 residents of the Jewish Home for the Aging need
emergency evacuation. At least one synagogue in New Orleans, Shaar Hadash,
is under water, and another is heavily damaged. The JCC and communal
services building has been destroyed. The need for cash assistance,
temporary housing, access to health care and personal counseling are
enormous. Beyond New Orleans, the Jewish communities in Mobile, Biloxi and
throughout the region also have similar needs.

Posted by joshuasharf at 12:31 AM | TrackBack

August 31, 2005

Further Katrina Update

Federation of Nashville is trying to arrange home hospitality for Jewish evacuees/refugees. Contact Naomi Limor Sedek if you're in Nashville, and you've got a place.

These folks are going to be out of house and home for a while. My guess is that sooner or later (hopefully sooner), Nashville Federation will start coordinating donations of money & stuff to help support the families supporting the refugees. I'll let you know when that happens.

Also, Federation of Houston, which is the new headquarters for Jewish-Federation-of-New-Orleans-in-exile, has posted a list of contacts for evacuees/refugees to get in touch with.

Posted by joshuasharf at 10:04 PM | TrackBack

New Orleans Jewish Federation

The following email has been posted by the Allied Jewish Federation of New Orleans, temporarily relocated to Houston:

Dear Friends/Colleagues,

Earlier today, I sent the following message to the Jewish community
e-mail listserve for any evacuees from my community with e-mail access:

We hope you are out of harm's way when you read this message from the
Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. This message is being sent
to you from our temporary headquarters located in the offices of the
Jewish Federation of Greater Houston where they have shown us
tremendous warmth and hospitality.

During the unspeakable destruction of Hurricane Katrina and the long
aftermath of rescue, clean-up, and recovery that will follow, we want
to offer you the opportunity to stay in touch with your community
even though we all evacuated in different directions.

E-mail through the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans can serve
as a clearinghouse for information. Additionally, when we set-up a
bulletin board system on our web site, we will notify you by e-mail
so that community members can post messages for each other and reply
to those posted messages.

Until the time when we are allowed back into the greater New Orleans
area to assess the damage to our homes, schools, agencies,
synagogues, and businesses, we will wait and continue to share
information with you through e-mail. My temporary Houston cell phone
number is 832-545-2128.

The outpouring of love, concern, and support that has been expressed
for the Jewish community of Greater New Orleans is
overwhelming. From cities throughout the United States, other Jewish
Federations, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Government of the
State of Israel, and the synagogue movements, we have received
messages and offers of help. Disaster relief mailboxes have been
established for us through United Jewish Communities and the
Federations of North America, as well as the Union of Reform Judaism
(URJ) and the United Synagogue of America.

On behalf of me, Roselle Ungar, and Adam Bronstone, our thoughts and
prayers are with you wherever you are.

I just spoke with Eric by phone, and as soon as I know anything about the Orthodox organizations, I'll post that contact information, as well.

At the same time, the OU reports that:

Attention members of the New Orleans Jewish Community displaced by Hurricane Katrina:

Adam Bronstone from the New Orleans Jewish Federation is trying to locate all members of the N.O. Jewish Community. He can be reached at adam@jewishnola.com.

UPDATE: The Orthodox Union and Chabad Lubavitch of New Orleans have set up a donations page, as well.

Posted by joshuasharf at 06:27 PM | TrackBack

A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Balanced Scorecard: Measures that Drive Performance

The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud