The Pandemic has been confusing, painful, and difficult for many, including for us at NECHAMA. Our team was deployed to Nashville, TN in March 2020 assisting with post-tornado clean-up when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered us and other relief organizations to stop work. NECHAMA inspires and enables volunteers to come together and work on behalf of strangers in desperate need, thereby providing comfort and hope. How would we function when we suddenly were required to stay apart? NECHAMA depends on philanthropic generosity. How would we function given new and widespread financial uncertainty? All of us have wondered how we would function.

Despite massive uncertainty, it was clear that the Pandemic would not stop extreme weather events and destruction, and people would continue suffering. Consider Ms. Damita, a widow in Detroit whose basement flooded with raw sewage during heavy rains this past June. The damage displaced both her son, who was living in her basement and her 80-year-old aunt, who had to be hospitalized.

One of NECHAMA’s core values is Lo Ta’Amod (לא תעמוד) – “Don’t Stand Idly By.” We are commanded “not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor” and the Talmud interpreted this verse as an obligation to aid others regardless of the risk to ourselves. We didn’t know how, but we had to continue providing comfort and hope to those in desperate need.

In Ms. Damita’s situation, we engaged day volunteers to remove water and sewage from her basement. Volunteers removed personal items, damaged furniture, and materials covered in mold such as flooring and drywall from the walls and ceilings. With tears in her eyes, Ms. Damita told our team, “After the storm, I lost all hope. But you all showed up and I’m hopeful again. Now I can get back up and readjust my crown!”

The storm had devastated Ms. Damita and her family, but we helped them move beyond the damage so that they could begin to rebuild their home and their lives, restoring a sense of normalcy.

During the Pandemic, we have figured out how to spread comfort and hope to many in Michigan, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, and Minnesota. Despite the struggles that NECHAMA has faced, we have continued showing up for those who have suffered worse.

As 2021 comes to a close, join us in helping those who have suffered so much. There never has been as much need for our work as right now — our efforts to deliver comfort and hope are limited only by our resources. Please don’t stand idly by, but rather be as generous as you can at this critical time.

With gratitude,

Stephen Matloff

Board President

NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster