On Monday, November 5th, seniors at Shaare Torah Boys High School (STBHS) responded to a call for help from rabbis in Belle Harbor whose synagogue, Congregation Ohab Zedek, was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The night before, rescue workers found the basement bet midrash inundated with six feet of water, and, unfortunately, three Torah scrolls were seen floating in the water. A team of workers arrived to pump out the water, but additional manpower was needed to help synagogue officials remove the hundreds of destroyed siddurim and other holy books so they could be brought for burial.
STBHS Headmaster Richard Altabe got word of the call for help and arrived on the scene with 25 seniors after they completed their morning Torah study. The boys helped with the removal of sacred books from the synagogue, and were then sent to private homes in the area to help families remove their destroyed holy books.
In a poignant moment amid the cleanup, students Manny Marcos and Felix Harari, found a waterlogged volume of masechet (tractate) Gittin, the masechet which the seniors are learning in yeshiva this year. Moved by the sight of the irreparably damaged volume, Manny and Felix, along with their classmates, decided to make a commitment to complete the study of the entire masechet in memory of the hundreds of Gemarot that had to be discarded as a result of the storm.
Shaare Torah PTA Toy Drive for Sandy Victims
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Shaare Torah’s PTA conducted a successful toy drive at both Shaare Torah Girls and Boys elementary schools to benefit children in the Rockaways who lost all their toys. Toys were also donated to the Torah Academy for Girls pre-school in Far Rockaway, whose 14 pre-school classrooms lost all of their toys due to the flooding. The Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula, under the leadership of its President, Headmaster Richard Altabe, coordinated the distribution of the toys in the Far Rockaway community.
Kudos to PTA Presidium Danielle Menaged, Lillian Esses, and Monique Esses, as well as past presidents Adele Shalom and Frieda Harari, for quickly responding to the needs of the storm victims. Rabbi Meir Weitman, Dean of the Torah Academy of Girls, expressed his deep appreciation to the parents of Shaare Torah on behalf of the students of his school and the affected families in Far Rockaway.