We have all been moved by the tragedies we’ve seen unfolding in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The nation’s 4th largest city overwhelmed with floodwater, the many smaller towns nearly destroyed, overwhelming stories of fear and of heroism. So many of us have friends and family who are among those affected. The Jewish community of Houston has been hit hard, as well. It is estimated that 71% of Houston’s Jewish population lives in areas that have seen massive flooding. Some 12,000 elderly members of the Jewish community live in impacted areas. Jewish institutions have not been spared. The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston has taken on water and the sanctuary of Congregation Beth Israel of Houston has been badly damaged. Both buildings have also been centers for food distribution and shelter, helping others even as they need help themselves. Outside Houston, the Reform Movement’s Greene Family Camp, in Bruceville, Texas, has opened its doors to families seeking shelter.

The Jewish concept of Tzedakah is to do what is right by those who are in need. It is our Jewish call to action. There are many ways to help those afflicted in Texas. The American Red Cross is accepting donations as is, locally, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. We support their efforts. In addition, our partnership with our Reform Jewish institutions offers a special call.

We are supporting our colleagues at URJ Greene Family Camp as they shelter an increasing number of evacuees, just as URJ Camp Jacobs did after hurricane Katrina. Greene has asked for direct help in providing gift cards to those they are sheltering, who often come with minimal supplies and need help rebuilding their lives.

As the CBI community, we will be collecting gift cards of any amount to national stores (specifically Walmart and Target) and will be mailing these directly to the URJ Greene Family Camp, for them to disseminate. Please drop the gift cards off at our office or mail them in to CBI; attention: Greene Family Camp.

If you would like to make a monetary contribution, you can do so by calling the CBI office at 503-222-1069 and we will purchase cards on your behalf.