24 families of Congregation Torah VaChesed in Meyerland were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Many of them are recent immigrants who did not have flood insurance on their homes, and had to cover all their costs themselves.
Torah VaChesed’s rabbi, Rabbi Yaghobian, was in Israel when the Hurricane hit. He flew back to Texas immediately. Amidst the damage to their own flooded home, Rabbi Yaghobian and his wife immediately responded to the needs of the community. “It was a time of incredible kindness,” he says. People were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from all around: neighbors, Jewish organizations nationwide, and corporations who donated materials.
Rabbi Yaghobian borrowed money from Hebrew Free Loan Association of Houston, which he in turn to lent to his congregants, who needed immediate cash to clean and rebuild their houses, and replace their cars. He also lent money to the synagogue to replace the many destroyed books of sacred text.
Some congregants were apprehensive about asking for help, Rabbi Yaghobian remembers. But the interest-free loans allowed them to receive the assistance they needed, while maintaining their dignity and self-sufficiency.