The suburbs of Chicago are far removed from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. But in a world connected through social media, a smartphone and a little battery life can enable those in need of help to let the rest of the world know what is going on.
One particular distress call cried out from Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, N. J., and members of Temple Beth-El in Northbrook and Temple Jeremiah in Northfield sprang into action to let that community know they are not alone.
"We learned of the crisis facing the Aberdeen community from a Facebook posting discovered by Rabbi Deborah Helbraun, who shared the call for help with her husband, Rabbi Sidney Helbraun of Temple Beth-El and Rabbi Paul F. Cohen of Temple Jeremiah," said Janice Hadesman, director of Family & Congregational Life at Temple Beth-El. "We decided to get involved and sent an email to all our members alerting them of the help needed for the people of Aberdeen. Immediately our congregants began dropping off items and the supplies just kept pouring in."
Diapers, baby formula, baby wipes, toothpaste, batteries, cleaning supplies and coats were just some of the supplies desperately needed in the Aberdeen community. Temple Shalom was not looking to help only its congregants, but was serving as a distribution point for all citizens in need. Jews and Gentiles alike needed help.
"I am very proud, but not surprised that our community came together to help the people of Aberdeen," said Rabbi Sidney Helbraun. "We did the same thing right after Hurricane Katrina. I am grateful that my wife saw the post for help on Facebook or we would never have known."
Temple Beth-El accepted the supplies and students attending religious classes, their parents and other congregants, boxed and labeled the items, which were then loaded onto a donated semi-truck size trailer for the 825-mile journey to Temple Shalom in hurricane-torn Aberdeen.