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Boulder Jewish Community Flood Round Up

Flooding in Boulder on Wednesday evening, September 11, 2013. Photo posted by brandish on Instagram @photogjake.

As residents of Boulder County, and the whole Front Range, start to take stock of their situation, and the weather forecast finally calls for sunshine and dry weather, Boulder Jewish News recaps what we know about our Jewish community from the last several days.  If you know of updated information, please add to the comments below or email editor@boulderjewishnews.org.

As rainfall increased midweek, and travel became more difficult because of the weather and flooding, most area synagogues held their collective breaths to see if they would be able to hold Yom Kippur services Friday night and Saturday.  As the storms and flooding worsened, buildings and roads succumbed to flood damage that made holding services not only questionable but potentially dangerous.  Weather forecasts called for continued heavy rain Thursday, Friday, and into Saturday, with some tapering off Saturday into Sunday.

In a development that seemed to be HaShem’s direct intervention, on Friday morning, rain tapered off and stopped altogether, and there was even some sunshine.  This respite allowed synagogues to take stock of their situations and work in some cases with their rented venues to allow Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur day services to go forward after all.  Several communities opened their services to anyone who could get to their locations, allowing people to attend services near their houses or temporary shelter rather than risk longer drives.  Just a few of the amazing stories from Yom Kippur:

  • Congregation Har HaShem was able to hold their regular services at a rented location on South Boulder Road, after flood waters receded and the road re-opened.
  • Congregation Bonai Shalom obtained permission from the President of Naropa University to hold services there as planned, even though the rest of the university remained closed.
  • Adventure Rabbi was able to hold services at Millenium Harvest House as planned, as water receded from their parking lot and Arapahoe Avenue, making access possible.
  • Chabad of Boulder was able to hold services after water receded enough for them to clean up the rooms they use for services, even opening up services to anyone who needed a place to go.
  • Similarly, Chabad of Northwest Denver was able to offer free hotel rooms Friday night to anyone who needed them to attend services with them in Westminster.
  • Chabad of Longmont was able to hold services as planned at a hotel in Longmont, even though Rabbi Borenstein and family were evacuated from their home at 3:00 am Friday morning.
  • Aish Kodesh was forced to cancel their services, but their members were welcomed and hosted in Denver as well as at Bonai Shalom’s services in Boulder.
  • Chabad of CU was unable to hold services in their damaged building.

All of this went on while the following damage was being cataloged and reported:

  • Congregation Har HaShem’s main building’s basement classrooms were flooded.
  • Congregation Bonai Shalom’s basement social hall was flooded to the roof from the nearby creek.  Rabbi Soloway’s basement next door was flooded as well as the creek washed by his home.
  • Chabad of Boulder sustained flood damage.
  • Chabad of CU’s new building sustained flood damage.
  • Chabad of Longmont’s building was flooded out.
  • Boulder JCC’s parking lot flooded, as well as access to the building cut off for some time.

And of course, many, many community members were directly affected by flooding as well.

While all of this was going on, several amazing initiatives were begun for the Jewish community to reach out and help each other: as the Talmud states, Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh–all of Israel is responsible for one another.

  • The Hesed Committee at Bonai Shalom has set up a matching system that matches people who can provide volunteer time, access to hot water and washing machines, and shelter to those who need those services. That system can be accessed here. The access code is bonai (all lower case.) YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A MEMBER OF BONAI SHALOM TO ACCESS THIS RESOURCE. You can register on the site to offer help, or to ask for help.  You can also send an email to hesed@bonaishalom.org.  If you have questions about this website, please contact Wendy Aronson at 303-669-4917.
  • Chabad at CU Boulder has students who have volunteered to come to your house and help move furniture, remove carpet, etc. To access this service, please contact Rabbi Wilhelm directly at jewishcu@gmail.com.
  • NECHAMA

    NECHAMA, a Jewish organization that will assist with the clean up efforts. Mark McGilvery is currently in Boulder, and is interested in learning about any efforts already underway and assessing households, synagogues, or other community spaces that are need of help with cleanup. If you would like NECHAMA assistance, please fill out this form. The requests will be forwarded to Mark and eventually to other team members for follow up. NECHAMA provides direct cleanup assistance free of charge such as interior and exterior storm debris removal following large-scale natural disasters. Their assistance is available to all and they prioritize assistance for low-income individuals and families, as well as those with medical needs, young children, and elderly residents. They will have a response trailer on the road from MN heading to Colorado to support the cleanup as needed.

  • Boulder Jewish Family Service is available for assistance at 303.415.1025 or csummer@jewishfamilyservice.org.
  • Rabbi Borenstein of Chabad of Longmont is collecting needs and volunteers in that area.  He can be reached at Rabbi@JewishLongmont.com or call him at 303 678-7595
  • If you are unable to volunteer your time but want to contribute to the relief efforts, the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado has set up the 2013 Boulder Relief Fund. 100% of all the donations will go to directly to those affected by the floods. There will be no administrative fees taken.

There are other resources coming to bear as well.  Some additional important links:

Please remember that it is a mitzvah to not only give assistance, but to receive it, when needed. If you are in need of help, please don’t be shy about asking! Your community wants to support you!

 

About David Fellows

I've been writing things since grammar school, and served as a writer, photographer and/or an editor on my junior high and high school newspapers; the Daily Trojan at USC (where I earned my journalism degree); the student newspaper at the Anderson School at UCLA (where I earned my MBA); and written and edited countless business documents and presentations in the ensuing twenty years. I've been involved Jewishly since my bris and in Boulder since 1995. I'm married to my Executive Director Cheryl, and we have two children, Lauren and Ethan.

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2 comments

  1. That photo of Boulder with the cyclist is insane! I thought we got a lot of rain in Michigan. Thank you for the post, it is good to see people helping people!