As waters recede, flood victims counting on us

It was a horrifying sight: floodwaters rushing down normally quiet residential streets, homes washed away by the mud and torrents, rescue personnel overwhelmed, several people dead and hundreds missing.

These were not hurricane-battered mountain villages in Central America, but the placid Rocky Mountain towns of central Colorado: Boulder, Lyons, Longmont. A once-a-millennium series of storms devastated the region last week, and residents are still digging out.

As our story on page 8 details, the Jewish communities of Boulder and surrounding towns were not spared. Several synagogues were flooded, one Hebrew school washed away and many sacred texts were destroyed.

Of course, the story is not so much the natural disaster but rather the collective determination to help victims recover. On that score, Jews and Jewish institutions in the Bay Area and across the country have jumped to the forefront.

All three of our local Jewish federations have set up emergency funds for victims of the Colorado floods. The national arm, the Jewish Federations of North America, rushed $50,000 in immediate emergency aid and is continuing to raise money.

We urge our readers to contribute to these efforts, either locally or nationally. The full extent of the flood damage is still unknown, but surely there will be a huge cost to rebuild. Our brothers and sisters across Colorado will need a helping hand.

The fact that this disaster occurred around Yom Kippur adds a measure of poignancy to the story. Every year in synagogue during the Days of Awe, we chant the words, “Who by flood, who by fire?” At this time of year, we are never too far from those intimations of mortality.

As we gather in our sukkahs this week to celebrate our bounty, let us take a moment to note our good fortune that we have been spared this calamity. The best way to acknowledge that is to help the afflicted — something Jews and the Jewish community have always done and will continue to do.

The funds being raised in the Jewish community for Colorado are intended for all those affected. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Colorado,” said Michael Siegal, chair of the JFNA board of trustees.

Whenever disaster strikes in the world, from tsunamis in Southeast Asia to earthquakes in Haiti, Jewish organizations send immediate aid while Israeli rescue and medical personnel rush to the scene, offering their expertise and caring support. It’s something to be proud of, always.

We wish a chag sameach and a joyous Sukkot to all our readers.