Saturday, November 26th | 2 Kislev 5783

September 13, 2017 10:16 am

New York Times Reporter, Flooded by Harvey, Seeks ‘Solace’ at Synagogue

avatar by Ira Stoll


A flooded neighborhood in southeastern Texas following Hurricane Harvey. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A New York Times journalist whose house was flooded by Hurricane Harvey went to synagogue after the storm “to find some solace,” he said in a first-person account.

Clifford Krauss, a Times reporter who covers the energy industry from Houston, wrote:

I am not particularly religious, but on the first Friday night after the flooding I went to my synagogue to find some solace. Congregants embraced, and I went over to hug a woman I know casually because she was crying. I asked if she had lost her house; no, her mother had just died days before. It dawned on me that hers was a real loss, compared with the material things.

Rabbi David Lyon, in his own eloquent way, beseeched those in need to reach out for help and for everyone to assist one another. “Hate is not the opposite of love,” he said, citing the Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel. “Indifference is the opposite of love.”

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Mr. Krauss also wrote about how he also went to a church as part of his reporting for the Times:

The pastor, Keenan Smith, like my rabbi, appealed for mutual aid. “It’s times like this, God, that people really see you,” he said. Being an essentially secular person, I probably took that slightly differently from the way he intended.

Mr. Krauss didn’t spell out precisely how he did understand the comment about God and the hurricane.

Mr. Krauss further explained how the storm affected his family budget:

Time to plan for Emilie’s bat mitzvah. Move ahead, or do something modest? Our finances are up in the air.

It’s unusual to see a Timesman writing in the newspaper with this level of personal transparency and candor, but it’s telling, too. Even the synagogue-attending Timesman, raising a Jewish child, was at pains to somehow insist to his readers, or perhaps even more to reassure himself, that he was “not particularly religious” and was “an essentially secular person.”

Maybe not as essentially as he thinks.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.


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