Houston resident Adrian holds his holy books while speaking with Josh Wander, a volunteer from Israel. .
(photo credit: ZAKA)
Hurricane Harvey forged an unbelievable path of destruction, killing more than 70 people and causing an estimated $70-billion worth of damage
But there are some things that just can’t be destroyed.
As part of their humanitarian clean-up campaign, working with the Jewish and Christian communities hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey, the ZAKA Search and Rescue team was sent by Pastor Becky Keenan from the Gulf Meadows Church to help clear the homes of members of her congregation.
It was almost a week after the hurricane flooded his home that Houston resident Adrian could finally return. What he found was a house completely destroyed. However, the only items in the home to be miraculously untouched by the flood damage were his prized library of Jewish interlinear Hebrew/English study texts and Bibles.
“All my secular books were destroyed, but the pages of these books are still dry, still usable and without any mold.”
Adrian, one of Pastor Keenan’s congregants, said he studies the texts to better understand the Jewish people, in an effort to build bridges between the Jewish and Christian communities.
“I have a pastor who teaches us about blessing the Jewish people, and more importantly understanding them, so one of my best ways of understanding was reading their texts,” he said. “To me that’s important, because if I’m to communicate with a Jewish friend, I have to know how he or she speaks and then there’s cohesion going on between Jewish and Christian communities. Because they see that we, the Christian friends are making an effort to connect with our Jewish friends by understanding their texts and the way that they think and the way that they pray.”
When asked if he was surprised that these were the only books in his library that survived, he never thought that anything would be in such good condition.
“This was in the house for days, and I wasn’t able to get to my house until Friday [a week after the hurricane dissipated], because the water here lingered, and because the water lasted so long I couldn’t open any doors to let the moisture out so it just turned my house into a swampland."
ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav said he is proud of the hard, physical work the volunteers are doing with everyone in need in Houston.
“Our sages tell us that God created man in his image. Not just Jews, but all men. ZAKA is a humanitarian organization that provides assistance, regardless of race, religion or gender.”
Noting that the Christian community in the States is very supportive of Israel, Meshi-Zahav is pleased that ZAKA volunteers are able to bring help from the Holy Land when it is most needed.
ZAKA, which is an acronym for “Disaster Victim Identification,” is mainly comprised of Orthodox Jews. They are known to take part in international rescue and recovery operations. Some of these included helping out after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2015 Nepal earthquake. sign up to our newsletter