Repairs begin in Boulder and surrounding areas. The healing began in the midst of chaos, as Jews of all stripes came together. People celebrated Yom Kippur, no matter what All this is the power of the Jewish people.
In Boulder, as flood waters threatened synagogues, homes and human lives, many Jews braved the water to attend Yom Kippur services. If they had to go to a shul other than their own, they did. If they couldn’t go to shul at all — many families were trapped in their neighborhoods or isolated areas — they observed the Day of Awe at home.
The Chabad Jewish Center of Longmont, which was severely damaged, held services at the Marriott. Despite Rabbi Yakov Borenstein’s concerns that he would not get a minyan, more than 100 people showed up. People felt compelled by circumstances to pray for more than they usually would — not to mention the desire to express solidarity.
Chabad at CU, under the auspices of Rabbi Yisroel and Leah Wilhelm, attracted hundreds of students. They wanted not only to pray but also volunteer — and after the holiday, volunteer they did!
Congregants from Orthodox Kehilath Aish Kodesh, whose tent had surrendered to the unyielding waves of water, prayed with members of Conservative Bonai Shalom (which sustained major damage) at the Naropa Institute.
Reform Har HaShem, whose north building was submerged under four feet of standing water and which had to cut all electrical power, welcomed everyone to Yom Kippur services held in a nearby church.
Chabad of Boulder cleaned up the refuse in time to open its doors by Kol Nidre.
One man we spoke to could not make services at all. To get to shul would imperil his children’s safety, so he stayed home and intoned the al chets with his family. “Yom Kippur,” he told us, “is where you are.”
In Denver, every head bowed low to offer prayers of healing for the victims.
Wherever services were held this past Yom Kippur in the larger Boulder area, separate Jewish communities came together — a wonderful development that, we hope, will not need a disaster to recur.
The volunteers who spread out in those early days and continue going door to door to help their fellow Jews exemplify the Jewish spirit.We are proud of their energy and dedication.
Agencies also joined forces. The Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, Nechama, Bonai Shalom’s network,
Chabad of Boulder, the Boulder JCC, JFS and other organizations reached out quickly and efficiently.
Relief efforts were not been limited by religion or national origin.
We were proud when we saw television news accounts of a team of humanitarian workers from Israel who traveled 6,000 miles to go door-to-door in the flood ravaged areas offering clean-up assistance.
News footage revealed glimpses of kipa-wearing students helping flood victims of all backgrounds on the days that CU was closed due to the flooding. They couldn’t go to class, so they got wet and dirty in the clean-up effort.
Volunteers from Allied Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Dept. (YAD) worked side-by-side with Muslims to clean up the damage caused by four feet of water in the basement of the Boulder Islamic Center.
True enough, to repair the dam-age fully will require more money and time. For some, only time will heal the loss.
No one can control the ravages of nature, even as Jews acknowledge its power and omnipresence — “who by water and who by fire.” What we do control is how we react to a catastrophe, and to each other. The flood was the curse. The blessing was the transcendence of differences.
May we remember both.