Update: Congregation Har HaShem

Har_HaShem_star_plus_wordsThe situation at Congregation Har HaShem remains critical as we recover from Colorado’s 100-year flood. Please read on for an overview of what has transpired, where we are now, and what needs to happen going forward.

The Damage

photo (21)North Building lower level, consisting of 8 classrooms and considerable storage, sustained 4 feet of standing water and destroyed carpets, drywall, shelving, furniture, curriculum materials, school supplies, and more. We were also forced to cut electrical service to the building.
  • North Building Sanctuary and Social Hall carpeting was flooded.
  • South Building carpeting and crawl spaces flooded.
  • Two residential houses we own had flooded crawl spaces and loss of mechanical equipment.
  • Our parking lot was covered with inches of mud and debris.

Staff and volunteer leaders have been working around the clock to remove water and mud from the buildings; assess and respond to Har HaShem’s significant property destruction; recruit and manage volunteers; juggle technology and infrastructure challenges due to power outages and intermittent phone, Internet, and email service; identify and respond to member needs; and conduct holiday services.

Great thanks go to myriad Har HaShem volunteers who have pumped water, swept mud from interior and exterior areas, removed soggy materials, power washed furniture, sorted through and inventoried surviving curriculum materials and prayer books, moved supplies and furniture into a temporary storage trailer, answered incoming phones, contacted members to check on their well-being, forwarded messages through neighborhood groups, coordinated volunteers, and so much more.

IMG_8348Nechama Jewish Response to Disaster staff are also working at Har HaShem “mucking and gutting.” This involves hauling out mucky debris and gutting damaged walls. Carpets, shelves and drywall have been removed, and mud and debris by the dumpster load is being shoveled out. Nechama brought skilled staff and supplies from out of town and have been actively supervising our own volunteers, as well as members of the homeless community who Har HaShem routinely helps. Nechama (a Hebrew word meaning comfort) is a nationally-respected disaster preparedness, response, and recovery organization based in Minneapolis.

The Cost

  • The impact of all of this at Har HaShem is estimated to be between $150,000-$200,000.
  • Har HaShem’s insurance will cover a fraction of the cost.
  • Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado set up a national campaign to raise money for assisting Boulder Jewish organizations affected by the flooding and has provided a small allocation of money to Har HaShem for which we are grateful.
  • Support from FEMA remains to be seen.
  • $4,000 worth of curriculum materials were damaged, and four Jewish book publishers agreed to donate replacements.
  • The Bottom Line: The need for cash donations remains tremendous.

Despite the Devastation… HHS is Conducting Business

  • We conducted Yom Kippur Services with temporary electrical power.
  • A family program and adult Sukkot service were held at the synagogue.
  • Friday Shabbat Services, a Saturday bar mitzvah, Family School, and a wedding all took place over the weekend as scheduled.
  • Sunday School will begin September 29th.
  • Mini Menshes will begin October 13th.
  • Hebrew School will begin as planned on Monday, September 23rd.
  • Other events are taking place as planned.

What to Expect When You are Next in the HHS Buildings

  • A professional analysis was conducted to ensure that the air at HHS is safe. For the next week or so, you will see air ventilation equipment hanging from the ceilings and fans on the floor.
  • Class locations for children may change.
  • Odor may be present as wet surfaces continue to dry.
  • Recovery trucks may be in the parking lot.
  • Children under age 10 must be accompanied by an adult and may not roam the building for their safety. Please help us by cooperating with this.

Next Steps

  • Please consider a donation to the new Har HaShem Flood Relief Fund.
  • Visit this VolunterSpot link HERE to sign up to volunteer as the need will be large for weeks to come. Plan to please revisit again as we add additional requests.
  • An Amazon Wish List is being created to replenish needed school supplies either by purchasing them or committing to bringing them to the synagogue.
  • Check for ongoing updates that will be posted on the www.harhashem.org website.

Thank you!

About Ellen Kowitt

Marketing and Communications Professional. Genealogist. Jewelry Artist. Kehillah Builder.

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