The dedication of the new synagogue in Tegucigalpa on Sunday has special significance for one visitor from New York City.
Michael Jordan, from Riverdale, who was among a few dozen local volunteers who helped repair the old synagogue's Torah scroll that was damaged in Hurricane Mitch, was in the Honduran capital for a week three years ago for the sefer Torah's rededication.
And he was there for a month 19 years ago, after his birth.
A few hours after Shabbat services one Friday night in October of 1998, the heavens over Tegucigalpa opened up. Hurricane Mitch struck Honduras, killing some 7,000 people in the country and flooding the capital. The city's synagogue, one and a half blocks from the Choluteca River was inundated with water; the roof collapsed and walls buckled; one Torah scroll was carried away by the torrent.
Philip Gelman knew, even before he stepped on a Tegucigalpa-bound American Airlines flight last week, that the synagogue and most other buildings in the capital of Honduras had suffered heavy damage during Hurricane Mitch.But he wasn’t prepared to see it.
“Fortunately, it was dark” when the Manhattan native, president of the Jewish community in Tegucigalpa, returned to Honduras. “Part of me really didn’t want to see what was here.”