Tikkun New Orleans

new_orleans_sign.jpgMy next few posts will come from New Orleans, where I’ll be accompanying 33 JRC members on a service project we’ve dubbed “Tikkun New Orleans.” Over the next five days, our delegation will witness the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina first hand, learn more about the heroic efforts taking place on the ground, and personally participate in a rehab project in an East New Orleans neighborhood. Together, we will enter a home that has been closed since the day after Katrina, go inside, clear it out completely, and strip it down to its very studs to prepare it for eventual rehabbing.

Today, in preparation for our journey, we showed Spike Lee’s devastating Katrina documentary “When the Levees Broke” at our congregation. Just breathtaking. By any standard, our nation’s abandonment of the Gulf can only be called a national disgrace. Two years after Katrina, more than half of New Orleans remains devastated. Whole neighborhoods stand as abandoned as they were the day the water’s receded. A third of its pre-Katrina residents have relocated. Other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are still struggling to get to their feet. On a local, state and federal level, the betrayal of these communities has been simply staggering.

As has been widely reported, the only real post-Katrina relief efforts taking place in the Gulf region are coming at at the hands of volunteer agencies and religious organizations. I’m enormously proud that JRC is participating in this relief effort that is now entering its third year – and I look forward to sharing our experiences with you during the coming week. Please stay tuned…

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