An Update on Houston


 A Message from Arlene Miller, President & CEO

Yesterday afternoon the first Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) ground team arrived in Houston and got to work supporting the local Jewish Federation and community. Their immediate focus is on building a comprehensive picture of needs, moving quickly on the highest priority issues, developing a system for the barrage of volunteers already descending on the city, etc. I thought it would be helpful to you to share a quick update.

General Impressions:

Spirits are generally high in the community.  Houston has been through floods before so they have a handle on what to do and a can-do attitude. But things are moving slowly as they are overwhelmed, exhausted. There are pockets of amazing energy. The one functional space at the JCC, their tennis center, has been reorganized as a major collection and distribution center for donated goods and there is a steady stream of donations being dropped off – any kind of household goods that people might need – and a steady stream of people in need carrying stuff away. A major volunteer day is planned for Sunday to match people want to help muck out flooded houses with people who need that help.

Lee Wunsch, the President & CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, was very emotional yesterday afternoon when told that the first $500K in funds had been wired to their account – money raised by Jewish communities from throughout North America.

Severe Challenges:

  • The B’nai Jeshurun Conservative Day School building has been wiped out, a total loss. The major Conservative synagogue which also houses the day school is also totaled. They are scrambling to find a place to relocate the school. JFNA is working with the community to identify alternative places to operate.
  • The JCC pre-school is in a similar situation and is badly damaged. JFNA is on the ground working to find an alternative place for them to open within a week.
  • Schools are not opening this week so there is a desire to extend the day camps that are operating now so kids have a place to be and parents can do what they need to do.  
  • There are some distinctively Jewish neighborhoods that were very hard hit but we do not yet have a count on how many homes in the Jewish community were flooded. There is one Orthodox synagogue where some 90% of the congregants have been flooded out of their homes.

One thing is very clear: The costs of this disaster are going to mount quickly. Jewish Federations of North America have put a strong team on the ground and they are already having a big impact!  We are working to get a handle on what kinds of resource people need next week and in the weeks beyond (volunteering, good and services, etc.). But we will need your continued support. Please, consider giving whatever you can to the Jewish Federations of North America Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Let’s make sure Houston feels the love from Orange County and beyond.  

Shabbat Shalom,

 Alene Millier

 Arlene Miller



Jewish Federation & Family ServicesMission Statement: We care for people in need and strengthen Jewish community in Orange County, Israel, and around the world.