(pictured: Left- Jacob Figman, Development Director of Jacobs Camp. Right- Nadav Herman Operations Director of Jacobs Camp)
I’m proud to serve as the Operations Director of Jacobs Camp in Utica, MS. We are the home of Jewish Joy in the Deep South. In 2016 Baton Rouge was a disaster area after a horrible flood. My wife Anna (Camp Director) and I knew that we needed to go and check on our camp families in Baton Rouge. The plan was to drive down to Baton Rouge for the day to see what they needed and how their camp family could support them on the long road ahead after the devastating floods.
One day quickly became almost three weeks in Baton Rouge. During that time I got connected with NECHAMA and really loved the shared values between NECHAMA and Jacobs Camp. Jacobs Camp and NECHAMA both view life through a Jewish lens and for NECHAMA it doesn’t matter how you identify – they will help you. That is what their Judaism teaches them!
Fast forward to Hurricane Harvey. Of course, NECHAMA was headed to Houston to help and I knew that I wanted to help NECHAMA after I saw how much they helped the Baton Rouge community. I knew I could be of service after getting my skills of muck and gutting houses in Baton Rouge. I was so happy to be part of the NECHAMA family again in Houston.
Unfortunately, there is another fast forward to Lake Charles. After Hurricane Laura the Jacobs Camp team quickly reached out to our camp families and unfortunately there was some immediate help needed before mold and mildew set in – the entire area was really demolished by the hurricane. The news reported that hurricane Laura was the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in Louisiana and from the damage that my wife and I saw – we totally agreed. Of course days after camp came to Lake Charles to support our camp family, the next layer of help was NECHAMA. I heard from Dorothy that NECHAMA was making plans to get to Lake Charles so I took a few days to get my work done at camp so I could be in Lake Charles with NECHAMA.
My favorite part about working with Nechama is watching the NECHAMA team truly value everyone they come in contact with from homeowners to volunteers to other organizations in the field. I’m the most impressed with how much they respect everyone – it doesn’t matter if you are young and strong and can move a building or if you are young at heart and can only offer support from the sidelines.
When you volunteer with NECHAMA you can come for a day, for a week, for a month – the amazing part is that you will learn real-life skills in the field and do some fantastic work AND regain your faith in humanity. The days can be dark in the world right now – NECHAMA is the light in the world.
My Judaism that I learned at Jacobs Camp and NECHAMA values are so intertwined. For me it means – It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it. Pirke Avot teaches us this, But for me, it really comes to life with NECHAMA. So put on your blue NECHAMA t-shirt, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to work. If you can’t join us on the job site – NECHAMA needs your financial support. Please donate here.
Your donation means that NECHAMA will be able to stay in the field longer. They will be able to help more people, do more good, and repair the world. We need your help!
For more information on Jacob’s Camp, please visit their website Jacobscamp.org
– Nadav Herman