Tikkun olam,” the powerful Jewish concept of repairing the world, has long been heralded as the rallying cry of Conservative and Reform Jewry. But a growing number of Orthodox 20- and 30-year-olds are trying to revive social justice responsibilities among their Orthodox peers — not as a liberal, humanistic-driven concept, but as one steeped in Jewish tradition and halacha.
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.
It was wrinkled, soaked with mud, smelled moldy. For Rabbi Emmanuel Vinas, it was a godsend, "a dream come true for me." The Jewish family life education director at the JCC on the Hudson in Tarrytown is using the 150-year-old sefer Torah heavily damaged in November during flooding caused by Hurricane Mitch as the center of a communitywide learning program.
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.”