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And the winner is...

Thursday, 17 November, 2011 - 11:43 pm

I want to thank all of those that participated in this week’s raffle. And the winner of the raffle is… each participant for their support of Chabad’s work in New Orleans. Most of the winning tickets were sold in other communities – particularly Pennsylvania and California. We did have one here in New Orleans – Congratulations to Dr. Rebecca Begtrup – winner of a GPS Navigation System.

I would like to share a story about the Jewish section of a German cemetery in Kirkville, LA (near Osyka, MS and Kentwood, LA). Over the years it had fallen into disrepair. Before Katrina volunteer groups (like the one from Gates of Prayer) went on occasion to clean up. Since the storm it had been neglected completely. Cemetery before.JPGIt was brought to my attention several years ago by Bobbe Jacobs of California – who visits the region annually. She had also informed Jennifer Samuels, then with the Federation, and we talked about trying to get something done. We brought Sandy Lassen of Shir Chadash and the Chevra Kaddisha into the conversation and the two of them went to see the place. They encountered graves overrun by vegetation and branches, downed trees, broken headstones and an overall disaster. Subsequently we ran into a few dead ends including rejected applications for funding. About a year ago we revisited the issue with the intention of seeing it through to a resolution. In the course of her research, Sandy learned that Richard Cahn had an interest in this project as well. The ISJL also was aware but had no resources to dedicate towards this project. 

The cemetery required professional work to clear away the major branches and trees. It would then need teams of volunteers to bring it back to a state of respectability.  Sandy received some recommendations from the German Cemetery folks regarding the pros that could perform the necessary work. Facing a daunting estimate for the work, the project nearly sputtered again were it not for the generous support of the Cahn family.  Cemetery after.jpgLast week the work was completed and the results are amazing. More work and additional funds will be needed to see this through to the end, but a major part of the task has been achieved. I want to highlight the perseverance of Bobbe Jacobs, the dedication of Sandy Lassen and the generosity of Richard Cahn, all playing central roles in this accomplishment.  

If you would like to be involved in this project in any capacity, please contact Sandy or myself. There is much left to be done and we welcome any participation. One of the angles we would like to take is to track some of families whose loved ones are buried there. This cemetery project would be ideal for volunteer groups as well.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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