President’s September 2020 Column

The Derecho Storm

It seems Cedar Rapids is again in the news. Two weeks ago, the derecho that rolled through our area left devastation in its wake. Many (almost all) the largest trees at Temple have been lost. I happened to be at Temple when the storm hit and witnessed some of our stained glass windows blown out. Also, there has been flashing and roof damage.

We have received calls from surrounding Jewish communities wanting to know how they can help. One synagogue, Iowa City’s Agudas Achim Congregation, has sent a check to our Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund. So many have helped the clean up effort, including Christian Faith organizations, NECHAMA and AmeriCorps. Also, NECHAMA – the Jewish Response to Disaster, did much of the work to restore our Eben Israel Cemetery. The Temple owes a big thank you to the folks that have helped with the storm cleanup, including Brian Cohen, Michael Heeren, Tony Smith and myself. 

We are busy getting repairs started, removing trees, requesting quotes, and of course, filing an insurance claim. I expect most expenses will be borne by the Temple as tree removal is not covered by insurance. While patching the windows, we did discover that many of the stained-glass windows are actually colored acrylic – no doubt because they had broken over the years and were replaced with plexi. These plastic windows did not break, and we will attempt to replace broken panels with new acrylic. 

Of course, all this could not have come at a worse time with COVID-19 and the unusual year this has already been. Or maybe it is opportune. Given we do not plan to have in-sanctuary services anytime soon, this break will allow time to make the necessary repairs. Also, we had planned to do some major landscaping in the back and side yards to retard the land from slipping as one can see around the outdoor sanctuary. This derecho may be what we needed to remake our grounds more stable. Just before the storm we had hired a licensed landscaper to design a better way to drain storm runoff so that it will not pull down our hills and erode the parking lot (more). 

I know that each of us sustained some damage, others much more personal loss. Luckily, no one was hurt; and as we look around, we know it could have been worse. We are thankful for that which we do have. Again, no matter what mother nature will throw us, we will come back, clean up, repair, and make better. We can survive and we can become stronger. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Robert Becker