18 Feb Optimism Amid Tragedy: Jewish Agency Shlichim in Houston
Optimism Amid Tragedy.
Jewish Agency Shlichim from around the United States arrive in Houston to provide relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Despite how hard it was to see their suffering, I came back stronger with a newfound hope, knowing that as long as people help each other no matter what happens—the world will always be a better place.
The Jewish Agency’s assistance in Houston is a perfect example of their mission to serve as the main link between the Jewish state and Jewish communities everywhere, and to address the Jewish people’s greatest challenges globally.
Hadas Perez is a Jewish Agency/Hillel International Israel Fellow at Santa Cruz Hillel. He was part of an initial delegation of shlichim sent from The Jewish Agency for Israel, providing crucial and immediate relief for families and institutions that suffered from the severe flooding in Texas.
As more shlichim joined the scene, they engaged in an array of activities to help residents in their great time of need, both in the Jewish community and beyond.
“It was only when I arrived in Houston that I realized how much harm Hurricane Harvey had caused,” Perez said. “Entire neighborhoods were flooded, damaging the Jewish Community Center, local synagogues, and schools. People lost their jobs and workplaces, children were left without school buildings, and families lost their homes. It was not easy for me to be there at first. I had to go inside people’s homes and help them throw away their own clothes, furniture, memories, and treasured sentimental belongings. Yet, amidst the loss, there was still positivity.”
“We worked with children at the Harvey Day Camp, a place for kids who were victims of the hurricane... I fell in love with them at once, and they made me feel like a child again. Being around these amazing kids filled me with hope. On our last day in Houston, we volunteered at the Gulf Meadows Church of Pastor Becky Keenan. It was heartwarming to meet a community that is a true friend of both the local Jewish community and the state of Israel. We helped dispose of trash in flooded nearby homes, and served warm meals to those who were left with limited access to food.”
Despite the great challenges the Houston community faced following the devastation of the Hurricane’s wake, Perez left feeling a sense of optimism. “I feel very fortunate to have had a chance to practice Tikkun Olam through helping the Jewish and Houston communities. Despite how hard it was to see their suffering, I came back stronger with a newfound hope, knowing that as long as people help each other no matter what happens—the world will always be a better place.”