June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

SAR High School Brings Chesed to New Orleans

Day 1—Maya Jacobs, 10th grade

We landed in New Orleans and headed straight to a soup kitchen. When we arrived, we put on hairnets and gloves, and began preparing food to serve the homeless people who would come to order. Once they arrived, this chesed mission instantly came to life, and we all began running around trying to ensure everyone got the meals they wanted. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience which gave us a new sense of appreciation for all that we have. We were even serenaded by a lovely woman after she received her food from us! It was a blessing to watch our chesed efforts affect other people directly, and it truly meant so much to see the grateful smiles on the faces of the men and women as we handed them their food or simply said hello. After the soup kitchen, we hurried to a horse (really a mule) and a buggy ride in the French Quarter. We learned about the history of New Orleans and which houses were haunted by ghosts! We also learned about the Vampire Society—a group of people who live as though they are vampires! Fortunately, we didn’t run into any. After the tour, we went to the shul to daven Maariv and eat dinner. Overall it was an amazing day and we can’t wait to continue this trip tomorrow!

Day 2—Sean Shteingart, 11th grade

We woke up bright and early for davening and breakfast, and then quickly left to help paint houses. We started painting and we not only had a water break every half an hour, we also had a waffle lunch halfway through. Despite our exhausted arms and dirty clothes, we pushed through the pain and continued to paint because we knew these houses were going to people in need. After hours of dutiful labor, we successfully painted two subsidized houses for veterans and first home buyers. Making homes beautiful and desirable for those in need was a meaningful experience, as we walked away knowing we truly made a positive impact on people who were in desperate need of a place to live.

Once we left the freshly painted houses, we drove to a physical therapy facility. At first we were confused as to why we were gathering in a semi circle around the entrance of such a place. Rabbi Katz answered us and said the very place we stood used to be a shul before Hurricane Katrina. It was a prosperous shul, with seven sifrei Torah and countless sefarim and Siddurim. After learning about the destruction of the shul because of the hurricane, we visited a nearby cemetery to see where the destroyed Jewish scriptures were buried.

Finishing off the day on a more positive note, we went to Kosher Cajun for dinner and Rock N Bowl for a night activity. We stopped at a Walmart on our way back to the hotel, stocking up on essentials for the next couple of days.

Days 3 and 4—Barak Waxman, 11th grade and Talia Aranoff, 11th grade

On an overcast Friday morning, after davening and eating breakfast, we headed to the Common Ground Wetland Restoration. Joshua, our enthusiastic environmentalist leader, taught us about the dangers of land loss and invasive species. We learned about the importance of keeping our world safe and rebuilding land lost, then planted trees and made stakes that would prevent land loss.

Later, we visited supermarket owner Burnell Cotlon. He showed us around his store and told us his story. After Hurricane Katrina, he had very few neighbors left with no supermarket around. He decided to take it on himself to open up a safe haven for his community in the Ninth Ward. His new “Wifi Supermarket” is a place where the community can gather to stay or stop by to use the Wifi. He is a testament to perseverance in the face of hardships and showed us that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to.

After a long rest period, we prepared for Shabbos. On Friday evening, we davened and had dinner at a shul called Anshei Sfard. On Shabbos day, we enjoyed beautiful davening, a delicious lunch, engaging divrei Torah, and a meaningful slow shira and Havdala.

On Motzei Shabbos, we had the privilege of listening to incredible jazz music at Reservation Hall, before heading to Cafe Du Monde for delicious beignets and delectable hot chocolate. It truly was an incredible Shabbos and Motzei Shabbos.

On Sunday, we left feeling like we had made a difference in the lives of people who needed our help. We felt more confident in our abilities to give back to our community and to offer assistance where it really mattered. Thank you to SAR for this incredible opportunity.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles