Chabad House Helps Hurricane Refugees

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by Esti Mellul, RU ’16

Chabad volunteers at Sonny Werblin Athletic Center pose for a group photo (Photo courtesy of Chabad House)

Chabad volunteers at Sonny Werblin Athletic Center pose for a group photo (Photo courtesy of Chabad House)

NEW BRUNSWICK — “When we built the kosher kitchens in our new building on the Rutgers College Avenue campus,” stated Rabbi Carlebach, Executive Director of Chabad House, “I never imagined we’d be preparing food for hundreds of hurricane refugees from New Jersey’s Atlantic coastal cities.”

Chabad House spent all day Friday preparing, delivering and distributing sandwiches to over one thousand individuals and families in the Sonny Werblin Sports Complex on Busch Campus who were displaced from their home towns due to Hurricane Sandy. Organized by Rabbi Shaya and Chayala Shagalow and Rabbi Shraga Crombie, Rutgers student volunteers Rella Firat, Reuven Tokayer, Josh Herzfeld, Adina Kramer, Esti Mellul, Sabrina Szteinbaumand Stacey Shewitz spent the pre-Shabbat day in this makeshift shelter distributing food and visiting the seemingly endless rows of people in need.

As soon as the group walked in, they were flanked by National Guard officers who warned the group that they “might get mobbed because the people here are so hungry.” The student volunteers went from bed to bed and person to person, allowing the refugees to make their choice of sandwich while giving words of encouragement and a smile to each person.

Freshman Esti Mellul offers sandwiches to young children at the shelter. (Photo courtesy of Chabad House)

Freshman Esti Mellul offers sandwiches to young children at the shelter. (Photo courtesy of Chabad House)

“It was great being able to help people in need and lift their spirits,” said Josh Herzfeld, a sophomore from Clifton, NJ. Rella Firat, a freshman from Miami, Florida, said ”I can only imagine what these refugees were dealing with. Most of them didn’t have much to begin with and now they have nothing at all. I’m glad I was able to take part in this event. Something so small as distributing sandwiches brought such joy and comfort to so many people. To witness their appreciation was worth so much more than anything else I could have been doing at that moment.”

“The experience of being able to help the community was amazing”, adds Esti Mellul, a freshman from Teaneck. “Before we left to Busch I thought it would just be a group of us handing out a few sandwiches. Once we arrived at Rutgers Werblin Center however, we saw just how many people there were, how little they have and how dire their situations are in comparison to ours, and we realized that we were involved in something much bigger than ourselves. The fact that we were able to help in a situation like that felt incredible. Being able to see the smiles on everyone’s faces, young and old, was the most amazing part of the experience.”


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