22 Elul 5777 B’SD

My mind is so preoccupied with Irma and Harvey that it’s hard to focus on the upcoming holiday season. Yet in just a few short days, everything stops and we dedicate ourselves to hours of intense prayer. Yet, my sermons remain in limbo as my heart is still occupied with the aftermath of Irma. I’m happy to report that the damage to our community was minimal and the spirits of our members are high.

As we prepared for the storm, Floridians watched with bated breath the latest projections of the storms path. A few miles east or a few miles west would make a big difference. Would it be a direct hit on our neighborhood and cause damage to our properties? Many took seriously the call to prayer, and asked the Almighty to intercede in these most trying times.

But prayer is not limited to God’s intervention; it also gives human beings the ability to change themselves. The gist of our High Holiday prayers is accountability, and having the wherewithal to modify our character. When I prayed to God prior to the storm I asked only that I have the strength to deal with the inconveniences and hardships regardless of the magnitude and scale of the disaster. I prayed that although it would be normal for my stress level to increase, I should become master over my own destiny. I asked that during these difficult days I should rise to the occasion and be the best that I can be.

I also prayed that we as a community would look after the welfare of those in need. The groundswell of community activists willing and able to assist others was admirable. Our shul partnered people to help those who needed assistance. To those who were part of this plan, a big thank you for agreeing to help others during a challenging time for you and your families! I heard from so many people in our community who were touched by the outpouring of concern and am thankful to those who reached out to help others.

We are indebted to the Atlanta Jewish community for hosting over a thousand Floridians and to the shuls that served meals to all who required them. I personally had lunch in a shul in Savannah, catering to Floridians escaping the devastation.

I am encouraged by the outpouring of financial assistance by various Jewish and secular organizations and am hopeful that these funds will not be needed by my community in Delray Beach. However, there are still those in our community who don’t have electricity and their preparations for Rosh Hashanah are in flux. I will thus conclude with an open invitation to all those in need of meals for Rosh Hashanah. Our shul has organized to provide catered festive yom tov lunches at the conclusion of Rosh Hashanah services both days. Please contact Eileen at 561-499-9229 for reservations.

If anyone suffered financial difficulties related to the hurricane and needs assistance please contact me at ansheiemuna@gmail.com or 561-499-9229.

May the coming year bring us all health, happiness, and a bright and sunny forecast.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tovah,

Rabbi Jack Engel

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