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September 8, 2016 8:56 am

Florida Chabad Family Hit Hard by Hurricane Hermine Hosts Shabbat Dinner for Community Despite Power Outage

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Damage in Florida caused by Hurricane Hermine. Photo: Gofundme.com.

Damage in Florida caused by Hurricane Hermine. Photo: Gofundme.com.

A Jewish family in Florida hosted nearly a dozen people for Shabbat dinner, despite not having electricity following last week’s Hurricane Hermine, Chabad.org reported.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman and Chanie Oirechman — co-directors of Chabad Lubavitch of the Panhandle in Tallahassee — served their guests matzah, peanut butter, vegetables and fruit, among other items. The meal was made up of any kosher food the couple, who have nine kids, managed to salvage before the Jewish day of rest started. They were reportedly limited in this regard, since many products were not available at local markets in the aftermath of the hurricane. Chanie said her older kids “grilled everything they could, and we sent some of [the food] to a homeless shelter and some to others in our community.”

The Chabad house has provided students from Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College with bottled water and bags of store-bought ice following the storm, which hit the southern state Thursday night and Friday. Some residents in the area have called on the Oirechman’s for help in other matters or just to see a familiar face, Chabad.org reported.

Rabbi Oirechman said that because of the storm, the Chabad center has a major leak in its roof, water on its carpets and a flooded basement filled with mildew. Chanie said Hurricane Hermine also destroyed more than $5,000 worth of food stored at the Chabad house, which typically gives kosher meals to over 1,000 people for the holidays.

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“We spent the summer months preparing for the new semester and school year by getting the programs planned and the food bought,” she said. “We had six freezers with food, including meats and chicken for the upcoming High Holidays, that we have to throw away. And it’s not just the frozen foods but the dry items as well, because it’s so hot and humid that it can [attract bugs].”

She added, “It hasn’t been the most pleasant experience, but we have to be here for who[m]ever needs us.”

Around 100,000 residents of Tallahassee lost electricity immediately after the Category 1 storm, which killed two people. An estimated 21,000 homes in the area are still without light or air-conditioning, according to Chabad.org. Hermine was the Florida’s first storm to hit land since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

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