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running from the storm

My cousin, Mitzi, in Houston just lost her family home in Hurricane Harvey.   The wildfires in Seattle, just caused my dear old friend, Shauna, to be evacuated. And our turn came this week, as the monstrous threat of Irma approached Miami Beach.   For the first time in memory, Shabbat Services at Temple Beth Sholom were cancelled because of the storm’s threat and our need to prepare. Like most of you, my family and I boarded up our house, piled in the car with our family, my mom and the dog, and left town, fearing what would become of our beloved neighborhood. When we arrived at our destination in Orlando and saw the storm’s track, Orlando suddenly didn’t seem far enough away. We piled back into the car and drove 18 hours straight to get to North Carolina, where the storm, at that point, seemed to follow us. I have friends who were going to stay at hotels near the airport which were also evacuated. Some flew to New Orleans. Others to Alabama. Georgia was another popular destination. One friend headed to Sanibel, only to find the storm followed him there so he boarded a plane for New York. Others just hunkered down in Broward. My oldest daughter, Hannah, drove to Jacksonville to get a plane to Nashville, then to Baltimore, and ended up in Philly.

We have since found ourselves playing the guessing game of what to do in a storm. What’s the best strategy? Where can we find safety? As hard as it is to admit, the truth is there is no place that is completely secure. We can hide in Sanibel, only to find the storm follows us there. We can escape to Nashville and then worry about flooding. It’s true that hurricane shutters provide some shelter and it’s wise to evacuate when ordered. But true shelter cannot be found in ply wood or New York City. We find shelter in each other. Friends who helped us hatch a plan or invited us in. Strangers who shared supplies and watched our dog at a rest stop. Colleagues who keep tabs on each other and offer support.

And for the ultimate Shelter, we look to God. My favorite verse of Adon Olam assures me:

B’yado afkid ruhi – Into God’s hand I rest my soul

B’et Ishan v’a’ira – When I lay down and when I rise

V’im ruhi giviyati – And if my spirit leaves

Adonai li v’lo ira – God is with me, I shall not fear.

We are sending prayers of strength, faith and comfort to all of you who have fled from the storm. May you be safe and may Irma (and then Jose!) pass quickly. And most importantly, may you find shelter in each other and in God’s sanctuary. Amen.

Sat, September 30 2023 15 Tishrei 5784