The unofficial clubhouse of outdoorsy Jews in the Northeast–the one and only Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center–got squashed by a tree during the hurricane. Specifically, the big red multi purpose building in the center of camp had a 100 year old evergreen fall right through it as though the building were a board in karate class just waiting to be chopped in half.

I’m sad about this. I’m sad about all the people with no power in New York, I’m sad about all the people whose entire neighborhoods were flooded in New Jersey, and I’m sad that a big empty building in the middle of nowhere Connecticut got squashed by a tree.

Why am I sad about a big empty building getting squashed? Because it’s home. It’s home for so many of us. It’s home for the Nehirim retreats, it’s home for the Avodah program, it’s home for Sukkahfest, and it’s home for all kinds of other retreats that I don’t even know about. It’s home for people I haven’t even met–and that itself, that big expansive feeling of interconnectedness which Isabella fosters, is so beautiful that I can’t bear to think of anything out there being injured or in danger.

We all need a place to feel safe and to feel grounded sometimes. If our safe haven is damaged, how much more dangerous does the rest of the world feel? I can’t just sit around, knowing that my happy place is broken. I want to fix it. I want for all of us to fix it, together, and when we’re done, I want us all to go have a retreat there and thank Gd that the storm has finally passed. All the people from New York and New Jersey can come feel safe with us lucky Bostonians, and we’ll sing songs and drink hot cocoa around a campfire.

We can build the campfire out of the logs from that unfortunate evergreen.

We can donate money online to the Isabella Friedman Jewish Retreat Center. 

And while we’re at it, here are seven different ways to help the people of New York recover, from food banks to the Red Cross to the Mayor’s office. 

(Be sure to donate blood if you can; Sandy cancelled over 100 blood drives.)

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