Joshua Lichtman, right, meets with some of his AVODAH Corps members, now evacuated to Henry S. Jacobs Camp
Joshua Lichtman, the director of the New Orleans office of AVODAH Corps, the Jewish service organization, had planned to have his orientational retreat for his nine recent college graduate members in Crystal Springs, Mississippi. When Hurricane Gustav threatened New Orleans and Lichtman found that the portion of Mississippi he and the graduate volunteers were in was also threatened and that nearby Camp Henry S. Jacobs was offering sanctuary for anyone in the area, he decided fairly quick to move over to Jacobs and make the best of a bad situation. "Tomorrow morning would have been their first date," Lichtman explained while meeting with most of his group late in the morning at the Jacobs dining room. Seven out of the nine AVODAH members made it to Jacobs. These include Ora Nitkin-Kaner from Toronto; Ariana Kolins from Brooklyn; Yaeli Bronstein from Teaneck, N.J.; David Eber from Salem, Oregon; Meredith Grabek from Paxton, Massachusetts; and Eliza Baron from Milburn, N.J. One volunteer will be dedicating herself to helping with ongoing recovery efforts across the city with Rebuilding Together. One will work with the Public Defender's Office and another, Eber, will be working with the lofty sounding Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development. I asked him what all of those words meant. "They buy products in bulk and then they give them at little or no cost to residents like green technologies," he said. "They promote getting better business, not just liquor stores and fried chicken stores, but fresh products. It's everything from parks to better lighting, to getting transportation, and getting businesses to help the community."It's certainly a mouthful, but it is an opportunity to make the neighborhood sustainable, both ecologically and economically. These idealistic recent graduates are all living together in an uptown home to which they can't wait to return. If the storm continues on its present track, I can't see any reason why they can't be back in just another day or two.