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  • Naomi Stricker

Brace for Impact: How Ian affected Chabad Communities

Naomi Stricker // CTeen North Orlando, FL

Three letters, and with them came the death of more than 100 people and the destruction of billions of dollars worth of property.

Hurricane Ian first made landfall on Tuesday, September 27 in La Coloma, Cuba with Category 3 wind speeds. As it left Cuba and approached Southwest Florida, the storm’s speeds grew to Category 4 classification. By September 29, it had dropped to Tropical Storm classification. On its rampage across Florida, the hurricane had dropped significant amounts of rain, leading to unexpectedly extreme amounts of flooding and severe damage across the state.

As Ian approached, Florida’s CTeen and Chabad communities braced for impact; praying for the best while preparing for the worst.

Residing near Orlando, I have lived through several hurricanes. The routine preparation has become ingrained in my mind. We buy essentials, such as food that does not require refrigeration or heat to eat. We then ensure that our water bottles are filled, in case the water lines are shut down for safety. The house is set to be a few degrees colder, so it takes longer for the sweltering Florida sun to heat up the rooms inside if power is lost. Windows are boarded, cars parked in the garage, plants brought inside . . . the list goes on. Yet no matter how prepared we feel, once a hurricane approaches, we are reminded of how little control we have over the situation.

CTeen leader Isaac Pines understands this feeling all too well. Having only recently moved to Casselberry, Florida, Pines recalls that he, “wasn’t sure what to expect, feeling somewhat anxious,” as the hurricane approached. Though his home had no significant damage, he did experience a brief power outage. After the hurricane had passed, Pines assisted with the cleanup of Chabad of Greater Orlando. The cleanup, organized by Rabbi Amram Hoffer, had the goal of moving debris to the side of the road for pickup. When asked why he chose to participate, Isaac responded: “I felt it was the right thing to do for my community . . . I would like to help out my community in different ways and be a role model for others.”

Sheina Jacobson, who runs the Chabad of Charlotte County alongside her husband Simon, had another heartening experience that puts the strength of the Chabad community on full display. Living in Punta Gorda, a city on the West Coast of Florida, Jacobson had to evacuate her home. She shared that after Yom Tov, her family packed into their van with the bare essentials; some clothing and their Torahs. Jacobson said, “We weren’t actually sure where we were heading, but we knew we needed to leave. Thankfully we ended up by the Ebers of Chabad of West Pasco Florida and they made room for 12 of us!” This goes to show the power of the Chabad community. As the hurricane passed over, she found herself, “davening for the safety of our community, our home, and our new Chabad house.”

In typical Chabad style, many selfless CTeen chapters outside Ian’s path of destruction have been there to help those affected. For example, CTeen of Woodcliff Lake raised an impressive $902 for relief efforts. CTeen Wellington organized a bake sale, which resulted in the ability to buy a generator for Cape Coral.

As Sheina Jacobson said: “When community is there for each other there is a tremendous sense of love, friendship, and a warm feeling of knowing you are not alone.”

If you would like to help, see the the resources below:


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