|Sign held by child protestor reads 'Can a man love God and hate his brother?'|
|Plaque next to a young Horse Chestnut Tree in the Park|
|Sculpture of Water Canon aimed at children during peaceful civil rights protests in 1963|
|The remains of the Main St in Cordova|
|The bank vault is all that is left of the Bank in town.|
We met Andrea, a one-woman powerhouse - an Attorney by profession - who is almost singlehandedly coordinating the volunteer effort in Cordova. She told us what had happened when two tornadoes ran through the town in the same day. The first had caused relatively minor damage, but it took out power and the warning systems which is why, when the second one came through in the afternoon, so many people were caught off-guard. Her volunteer organization has been helping individuals rebuild but is also taking abandoned homes and flipping them to make them ready for new residents, rent-free for the first year to help rebuild the community in the town. Our team divided into two groups - one to work on a home that was almost ready, to clean up and start organizing some furnishings, and the other to do dry-walling work. I was with the latter team, with Lisa Knicos, Steve and Andrew Soberman, and the three teens on our trip - Brittany O'Connell, Ari Matz, and Emma Pearlstone.
|Framing a closet wall for dry wall|
|An interesting find during house clean-up|
|One of our teams - all smiles at the end of day 1|
Another big lesson, and one that generated interesting conversations among our group in private moments, was the enormous role of faith among the local people working to rebuild; not only to give them the strength to do the exhausting work that they are doing, day in and day out, but also to make sense and meaning out of the events that befell them. While we may not share the same theology, we recognize that when they speak of us all being God's hands and doing God's work, we might understand the God-spark in each of us being that which inspires us to do good, or we might understand ourselves to be God's partner in the pursuit of tikkun olam (repair of the world). While we may express our faith in different language, we are inspired by the power of faith to sustain these communities through some of the most difficult times of their lives.
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz