I posted last week to wish everyone Happy Shrove Tuesday! Happy Mardi Gras! and mentioned the city we all associate with that Catholic holiday, New Orleans. A reader wrote to update me about how things are going in New Orleans from his perspective as member of one of the city’s old Jewish families. I’m going to let him be my guest blogger, today, and share the email with you:
Dear Ms. Abrams,
I stumbled on your post about Mardi Gras and wanted to
write to you directly.
I am a member/officer of Temple Sinai, New Orleans — 4th Generation.
Our congregation has been involved in interfaith activities since before
I was born and continues to be, and I’m in a 35+ year interfaith
marriage. But that is another discussion.
What I want to comment on now, is the interfaith nature of the help that
has come to the New Orleans area. I can’t even imagine the number of
church and faith groups that have come here from all over the country to
help rebuild New Orleans. Without them and all of the other volunteers,
we would not have, quite literally, survived as a community.
I’ve had contact with or know of groups of Presbyterians, Methodists,
Jews, Lutherans, etc., from towns small and large. Our annual Temple
Sinai Gala will honor five clergy from different churches, as well as
our Rabbi for their leadership in recovery and in working to maintain
all of our congregations in these rough times. It will benefit our
congregation and also donate appliances to a project of the recovery and
rebuilding effort. These clergy represent churches that interact in a
number of ways each year, ranging from pulpit exchanges to the clergy
meeting with each other for lunch. But I digress.
My wife tells the story of a friend who was working to repair storm
damage to her house. A group of people approached and asked if they
could help. It turns out that they were a Lutheran group who had
finished the project they were working on (another house nearby) early
and saw this person. They didn’t care what her religion was…only that
she needed help. There was Jewish group, recently, working in a
primarily African-American neighborhoods, and so forth.
The Presbyterian Church down the street from Temple Sinai had roof
damage to their Sanctuary. They had their Christmas musical and
Christmas Eve services in our Sanctuary. When the Greater St. Stephen
Full Gospel Baptist Church had a fire after rebuilding from Katrina,
they met for several months on Sunday mornings in our Sanctuary (the
While government at all levels made a mess of things, religious groups,
college students, and all sorts of volunteers have helped to save my
city. There is an important story here that is largely untold.
I’m available to discuss more.
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