Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dare we mention the "h" word

Fay is a just memory now, but all of a sudden an area of disturbed tropical weather in the Caribbean has strengthened into a full-blown hurricane and Gustav is now on everyone's minds. Looking at the suggested trajectory of the storm (according to the National Hurricane Center), it may well come into the Gulf of Mexico and, if it holds its present course, may become a problem for us unlucky fellows situated along the Louisiana coastline. Well, it is only three days away from the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This is the time of year that we are all prepared for this kind of problem and I've spent much of my life dodging storms. The irony of all of this hurricane preparedness is that for Hurricane Katrina, I was out of the picture. I was vacationing and didn't have an option of staying or leaving. In fact, when I left, the storm was little more than a minor consideration for Louisiana or Mississippi, where it eventually came ashore. We were all told that the storm would skirt up along the Florida peninsula and threaten Panama City and Tallahassee. In 24 hours it changed course and headed straight for New Orleans like a powerful locomotive on a long and straight stretch of track. It wasn't until at the last possible moment, as the storm began lashing the coastline of Louisiana and Mississippi that it veered toward the right and moved ashore east of the city.
Levees.org is getting ready to roll out one of its big guns in its tireless fight against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whom they hold responsible for the failure of the levee system designed to protect the city of New Orleans. On Thursday night, they will release a new short film titled "The Katrina Myth: The Truth About a Thoroughly Unnatural Disaster." Produced by Levees.org, the advocate organization headed by Sandy Rosenthal, the short film will be presented at Touro Synagogue with a festive party on the eve of the Katrina anniversary on Thursday night. Following the opening party with a live jazz band, the film will be shown, followed immediately by an audience discussion. To reserve a place for this free event, call 504-269-2650.
Another reform temple, Temple Sinai plans an interfaith worship service on Friday evening. Around the same time Congregation Beth Israel worshippers will hold their Minchah (Afternoon) prayer service at the site of the destroyed Lakeview synagogue on Canal Boulevard. A major program on Sunday morning will follow where markers recalling the 3,000 holy books and seven sefer Torah scrolls that were destroyed and buried in the synagogue's two cemeteries will be revealed. Community members are encouraged to participate at the outdoor event and to enjoy a festive repast at the new site of the synagogue, Congregation Gates of Prayer. This will probably be the last time that the Hurricane Katrina anniversary will be observed at Gates of Prayer, since Beth Israel is due to move out of the rented space they have been using for the past two and a half years by next July.

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