Less than a year into her job at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, N.Y., Rabbi Debbie Bravo sounded remarkably poised as she and her community face one of their most powerful challenges together: Hurricane Sandy.
Bravo’s land line was dead. When she picked up her cell phone Tuesday, she had just returned from the local police station.
“I have a child who takes medication that has to be refrigerated,” she said calmly.
According to figures released by The Long Island Power Authority on Tuesday, more than 930,000 families -- 90 percent of all island residents -- are without power after Hurricane Sandy wrought havoc Monday night across the northeastern United States. Among those 930,000 are an estimated 139,000 Jewish househoolds.
Hurricane Sandy, which washed ashore Monday evening just south of Atlantic City, N.J., took dead aim at the most populous region of the country, home as well to the majority of the country's Jews. In its wake, it left a trail of devastation that may take weeks to restore, if not longer.
“I went over to the synagogue a few hours ago, which is right next to a woodsy area," Bravo said. "Ten plus trees are down, including a huge one down on the front law. Everyone’s saying this is a hundred times worse” than previous natural disasters that hit the island.
The greater New York area, home to the largest population of Jews in North America, took a harsh hit as severe winds and flooding toppled trees, triggered electrical fires and flooded public transportation systems. The result: mass evacuations of apartments and dormitories, widespread school closings and damaged homes and community institutions.