In Ian’s wounds, Jews see healing and renewal on Yom Kippur – FOX13 News Memphis

FORT MYERS, Fla. — (AP) — Although a devastating hurricane swept through his community just days earlier, nothing could stop Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz from delivering the most dreaded victory on the Jewish calendar on Tuesday night. The holy day begins with a prayer ceremony.

In southwest Florida devastated by Hurricane Ian, Jews plan to hold a service for Yom Kippur, a day in which they fast for 24 hours and ask forgiveness for the mistakes they have made during the year, though many do so Because of the plan to drastically revise the storm.

Some congregations did not attend the all-important Kol Nidre service in person on Tuesday night because they feared it would be too dangerous to drive at night, with debris on the roads and traffic lights out. Others hold it online.

At the Minkowicz Synagogue in Chabad Lubavitch, a religious tradition in Fort Myers, southwest Florida, members plan to hold a community dinner before the fast begins Tuesday at sunset, with the help of caterers in South Florida on the other side of the state. Several buildings on the 5-acre (2-hectare) campus were flooded. But the main building, where about 50 people took refuge during the hurricane, was relatively unscathed due to its high altitude.

Power was restored Sunday night, and the campus was transformed into a community center with food trucks and a pantry. A large tent was set up in the parking lot where members of the synagogue — or anyone in the community — could stop and eat.

“The most important thing we have is to please God,” Minkovic said. “If God is happy, everything will be fine.”

At the Beth Earle Temple in Fort Myers, the congregation plans to conduct in-person Yom Kippur services on Wednesday, while Kol Nidre services are only available online Tuesday night. However, plans for the congregation have been changing as part of the Progressive Reform movement as utility trucks use the parking lot as a rest area for utility workers to rest. The trucks are expected to disappear from service on Wednesday.

With power restored to the synagogue and its property littered with fallen trees and debris, but nearby traffic lights remain on, Rabbi Nicole Luna said when deciding whether to attend in person, congregations should Consider their safety. Some of the more than 250 families in the congregation lost their homes.

“People are heartbroken and need both resources and supplies, but also community and hope,” Luna said.

Rabbi Lawrence Dermer and his wife Robin decided not to hold a Kol Nidre service Tuesday night at their synagogue, the Shalom Life Center, out of concern for the safety of the congregation. The evening marked the beginning of the holiday, with chanted prayers for deliverance from all unfulfilled obligations.

“We don’t want to encourage anyone to go out after dark. The roads are dangerous and there are still curfews in some areas,” said Lawrence Dermer, who leads the congregation, which welcomes members from all Jewish backgrounds.

The Shalom Living Center planned to hold day services on Wednesday, but did not hold a traditional community “breakfast” on Wednesday night, when Jews indulge in bagels, lox, whitefish and other staples after going without food for 24 hours. That will be delayed for several weeks until the community emerges from crisis mode from the storm, Lawrence Demer said.

According to estimates published in the 2020 American Jewish Yearbook, there are about 7,500 Jews in the Fort Myers metro area, and another 7,500 in the Naples area further south. The Jewish community in southwest Florida is relatively new compared to the rest of the state, with the oldest church, the Temple of Beth El, founded in 1954, with 22 families.

Lawrence Dermer and his wife say the ferocious storm has not caused them to question their religious beliefs, but has reasserted many members of their congregation. During the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, Jews traditionally say to each other, “May you be inscribed on the book of life,” which is almost a petition for another year of blessings. Life.

“Yom Kippur is about the fragility of life. If anything, we and Ian saw how precarious life can be,” Robin Demer said. “The meaning of Yom Kippur, renewal and connection with God, will be deepened, not diminished.”


Schneider reported from Orlando, Florida. Giovanna Dell’Orto of Minneapolis contributed.

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