By COLlive staff
A pair of Tefillin has made its way around the world, and has helped a victim of Hurricane Sandy.
Batya Kahan of Brooklyn, New York, has been volunteering with local relief efforts following the Hurricane which destroyed the homes and lives of so many on the East Coast.
“The need for normalcy and routine is far on the horizon for so many people that we are meeting,” she said. “So many people displaced. Many families are too large to stay in others’ homes.”
“I have been to Seagate,” said Kahan, about one area of Brooklyn that was hit hard by the storm. “I urge everyone to go. You cannot possibly understand the extent of the devastation until you actually see it for yourself.”
Kahan describes residents whose lives are sprawled out on the streets, some whose houses were condemned.
“There is a small ‘command center’ parked in the middle of Seagate, with a handful of volunteers. They are literally ‘holding up’ Seagate. They have been there with no power making sure there is no looting at night, taking complaints and requests for help.
“Some of the ‘lucky’ ones have found apartments. Others are not so lucky. Some are living without kitchens, some without boilers, which means no heat. There is so much chaos.”
Kahan and a group of volunteers have been collecting and distributing coats, clothing, boots, shoes and other necessities for families in the Far Rockaway and Seagate areas who have lost everything in the storm.
They have set up a center in Kahan’s basement and have been taking requests for help.
Last week, says Kahan, the volunteers had a request for a pair of sefard Tefillin. The man who needed them was devastated that he could not save his own pair because he and his family had barely escaped to their home’s second floor when the entire first floor filled with water.
At first, Kahan said, she doubted they would be able to find a pair of tefillin for him.
But then, another volunteer remembered that when her sister had been an assistant to the Shluchim in Shanghai, she had brought back a pair of tefillin from one of the Chabad House regulars who instructed her to have them checked and to give them to someone who needed them.
The women located the Tefillin, and handed them to the emotional recipient.
“It was very moving to see a grown man break down in tears because of the kindness of others,” said Kahan. “And there are many others that still need help. We are doing our best to help one family at a time,” she said.
Batya Kahan has been working with volunteers running a clothing drive from her home. If anyone wants to sponsor a child or a family, or knows of a family in need, call 917-318-7299.