Katrina's Jewish Voices, Ten Years Later

Menorah with one arm broken off, in Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans, pictured during a Spring Break service trip to Louisiana for Jewish teenages from Westchester, New York, April 11, 2006.
Courtesy of Rick Weil. Katrina's Jewish Voices, Object #2448 (June 03 2013, 10:20 am).

When most of us think of Hurricane Katrina, the Jewish community of New Orleans is not the first thing to come to mind. We’re more likely to think of the devastation of the Ninth Ward, of the homes marked with the number of bodies found inside, of the desperate conditions in the Superdome.

But ten years ago, the Jewish community of New Orleans—a community almost 300 years old—faced the dispersion of half its population. Yet another exodus for a people long used to wandering, and a challenge both for those who resettled elsewhere, and those who remained behind, trying to pick up the pieces of a broken city.

The story of Katrina is a story of disaster, tragedy, and fear. It is also a story of generosity and resilience. Leaders of the New Orleans Jewish community rallied together and collaborated to organize resources for its own members and those of the wider community. And they were met with an unprecedented outpouring of help from the Jewish community nationwide.

In the ten years since Hurricane Katrina, we’ve seen the city of New Orleans and its Jewish community rise rebuild as symbols of pride and regeneration. Their stories—of loss, of communal support, of refugee wounds reopened and of unexpected partnership—continue to resonate and spark meaningful conversations about the Jewish responsibility to ourselves and our wider communities. 

As the nation commemorates ten years since Katrina and celebrates the rebuilding of New Orleans, JWA invites you to listen to Katrina’s Jewish Voices, a collection of videotaped oral histories that JWA conducted in the aftermath of the storm. Listen to the unique and universal reflections of Jewish women on such themes as leadership, family, exile, and giving and receiving, and join us as we reflect on the importance of these stories and the strength of the women who tell them.

Topics: Jewish History
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How to cite this page

Rosenbaum, Judith. "Katrina's Jewish Voices, Ten Years Later ." 11 August 2015. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 24, 2021) <https://jwa.org/blog/katrinas-jewish-voices-ten-years-later>.

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