Hurricane Sandy has not just caused damage to buildings and amenities in the New York Jewish community, it has also raised religious questions about how Jews should deal with a severe storm.
The Crown Heights Beth Din in Brooklyn has published a set of halachic rules for those currently sitting out the hurricane, which has already killed 17 in North America.
The rules include a special blessing to be said when the wind is strong, as well as a reminder of the obligation to help members of the community as long as your own life is not at risk.
The Beth Din is calling for all members of the congregation to obey the authorities and has stressed that if it is dangerous to go out, praying must be done at home and not in the synagogue.
One of the synagogues affected by the storm is the Sharee Zion Synagogue in Brooklyn, which suffered minor damage when a tree fell on the empty house next door.
Member of staff Sara Esses told the JC that water was coming in through the doors and windows. However, she said: “We are stacking sand bags and covering everything with wood, so for now all is well.”
Hurricane Sandy has also damaged the phone systems, meaning worried family members and friends are unable to reach their loved ones to make sure they are safe.
Sandi DuBowski from Brooklyn took to Twitter today, asking for help in finding out if his parents were safe. “Pls save my elderly sick parents on Exeter Street bet. No word from them since 8PM,” he tweeted. Eventually, a neighbour came to his aid and he was able to speak to his mother for a few minutes. His parents are safe and well.