July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Where were you on Thursday afternoon and evening, when the snowstorm hit full force? Like JFK’s assassination and the first moon landing, everyone will likely remember where they were, and how long it took them and their loved ones to get home that night.

Facebook was abuzz all Thursday night and into the next morning with stories of people “finally” getting home, and it was the topic of water cooler conversations in offices throughout the area on Friday. We at The Jewish Link have stories of our own, and we also reached out to our Facebook friends so we can share with our readers some of the more interesting, frightening and heartwarming stories from the storm.

As luck would have it, we had scheduled a lunch for our editorial team members from all of our communities at a restaurant in Teaneck. We had already rescheduled from the prior week, and our associate editor, Phil Jacobs, was coming up from Maryland, so we didn’t want to cancel. Plus, the forecast looked fine, with snow not predicted to begin until 2 p.m., the end time for our lunch. With that thought in mind, lunch was on!

The two hours flew by, with more than a few nervous glances out the window, and when the snow began around 2 p.m. as predicted, many of us left to give ourselves time to get home. The Bergen County residents lagged behind, but those of us from points north and south set out for what we expected to be a slower drive home. I was lucky, though I did not realize it until that night, as it only took me an hour to get to West Orange. Fortunately I had left Teaneck quickly, but our writer from South Orange stopped to shop before heading home and it took her three and half hours. Writers heading to Union and Middlesex counties fared even worse. I actually think Phil had the easiest trip home, since the trains were not affected by the storm. Fortunately, everyone made it home safely.

On Friday we reached out to our Facebook family to see how others had managed. Here are a few of the comments:

“Took me six hours to go pick up my daughter from Liberty Middle School in West Orange. Took my husband nine hours to get home from the Orange Train Station!”

“Two hours from Hackensack Medical Center to Bergenfield. A friend helped me clean off my car with our hands.”

“Seven hours from Queens to Teaneck with my 7-year-old and 4-year-old. Left at 4 p.m. and got home at 11:15.”

“We had to get to synagogue for the final rehearsal for my daughter’s bat mitzvah. Couldn’t make it there from Berkeley Heights to Warren. 4.5 hours later, all gussied up in our now-wrinkled dresses, we reached home. It was terrible being stuck on the highway, but we were grateful the storm didn’t happen Friday or Saturday.”

“Took my family seven hours to make the 20-minute trip from Kushner to our house in West Orange.” (That was me.)

Jewish Link contributor and triathlete David Roher was able to joke, “I was stuck in Washington Heights, which is only seven miles from Teaneck. I was going to run home in the snow, but I couldn’t pull the car over.”

Reader Aviva Farbowitz told this story: “My daughter attends a school in New York City. All the children boarded a bus around 4 p.m. to head back to New Jersey. Coincidentally, that evening happened to be parent-teacher conferences, so the teachers who would usually ride the bus home were not on the bus that afternoon.

“We suddenly realized the weather was getting much worse, and the GWB was closed, and there were multiple accidents everywhere in the city. The bus moved maybe one block every 30-40 minutes!

“The oldest children on the bus were in eighth grade, and thankfully many other children had cell phones to communicate what was going on. The children had been on the bus for four-plus hours at this point. Collectively, it was decided the children needed to get off the bus to get some food and use a bathroom. Many parents had relatives who lived in the city and were all willing to meet the bus anywhere to take care of the children. Relatives and friends all offered assistance.

“Back at the school, two of the staff members, who live in Teaneck, and the head of the lower school took a train uptown to meet all the kids at Fairway, while other heads of school stayed back at the school to troubleshoot. The children arrived at Fairway at 9 p.m. and faculty and some relatives met them there. Additionally, there were a handful of parents who were making their way to Fairway to meet the kids to take them back to New Jersey. My daughter did not arrive home till 11:15 p.m.!”

Then there were the stories that made the news, like the students from Liberty Middle School in West Orange who had to sleep over at the school that night. And the beautiful community stories that did not make the news, like Livingston ShopRite providing coffee to all those who came in to get out of the storm, or the Dunkin’ Donuts on Northfield Avenue in West Orange providing food to stranded Golda Och students. And, of course, all the teachers, administrators and parents who came out to help students stranded on buses, or who stayed into the night and (in the case of JKHA) overnight to make sure the students were fed, warm and felt safe. A huge hakarat hatov to all those who went above and beyond and showed what it truly means to be part of a kehila.

By Jill Kirsch

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