Southern Jewish Community Trying to Put Pieces Together

Rabbi Zelig Rivkin, the top Chabad emissary in New Orleans, is now in Houston, coordinating efforts to contact relatives of hurricane refugees and put people in touch with each other.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 18:13

"It's quite hard to find the people and their relatives," he told Arutz-7 Thursday morning (Houston time), only some 36 hours after he left Katrina-stricken New Orleans, "because we don't have our data bases of names. But we know many of the people, and we'll try to search down their relatives in different states. This is our main priority right now."

Rabbi Rivkin and his son are being hosted in the home of Houston Chabad Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff. The Lazaroff household is one of some 75 that have informed local Chabad headquarters that they are willing to open their doors to New Orleans refugees.

In addition, Chabad in Houston operates 18 apartments at the Texas Medical Center, which are normally used to house patients who come from around the world for medical treatment. A Chabad representative said that these apartments would also be used to house hurricane refugees for the coming weeks.

Rabbi Rivkin was about to set out on his way to the Astrodome in Houston, where many of the refugees will be housed, when Arutz-7 reached him. He said his goal was to see if he could help some of the survivors, offering them housing and communication options.

Other Houston Jewish groups are also taking part in the mobilization on behalf of New Orleans, including the local Jewish Federation, Bnei Akiva, local synagogues, and more.

Not all of the New Orleans Jewish community arrived in Houston. Many people traveled north to Memphis, or east to Birmingham and Florida, or elsewhere.

Rabbi Rivkin, asked about his own personal plans, said, "As of now - it could change in a few minutes - I believe I'll leave right after the Sabbath and head to Baton Rouge or Lafayette in Louisiana. I think that would be the best place to set up a headquarters, possibly together with the Red Cross. The goal is to be as close as possible, and just be there to do what has to be done... We have to raise funds to help people put their lives back together; they’ve lost everything - their homes, their jobs, and they won't be able to go back to New Orleans for months."

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