A group of students from the Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls boarded a plane to New Orleans on Wednesday, November 2, for a life-changing experience organized by NCSY to provide relief for the people of New Orleans who were devastated by hurricanes.To start off the mission, the SKA girls helped demolish a house that was ruined by Hurricane Ida. Getting a structure back to normal starts with destroying the house, which can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars; by volunteering to knock it down, the girls were able to save the homeowner a lot of money and emotional stress. After learning how to use pry bars, hammers, and drills, the girls got to work ripping out walls, taking down ceilings, and removing doors.

Although the work may not have been so easy, it was extremely rewarding, and everyone exclaimed how amazing it felt to help out those less fortunate than them.Afterwards, the SKA students went on a tour of Jewish landmarks in New Orleans, beginning with the former Beth Israel Shul, which had been somewhat destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, and then visited the local Jewish cemetery. This exposed them to a very different Jewish community, especially one much smaller than their own.On Friday, the girls learned about how irises are so important to Louisiana’s environment that is damaged by many natural disasters. To help save the iris population, the girls began pulling weeds, adding dirt, watering, and planting them.The girls davened at the Beth David Synagogue on Friday night and had an uplifting Kabbalas Shabbos and ate a delicious dinner there. On Shabbos day, they went to Chabad for lunch, where they got to spend time and connect with some community members and were able to hear about their lives in New Orleans. They then spent the afternoon at the Chabad house, playing games and hanging out. At Shalosh Seudos, the rabbi’s daughter spoke about the importance of shlichus and how even though it may be difficult to live in a Jewish community as small as hers, the impact that Chabad creates is immeasurable. On Sunday morning, the girls went to the Chabad Hebrew school where they helped Jewish children enrolled in public schools learn to read and write in Hebrew. This experience provided the girls with a greater appreciation for being able to attend a Jewish school, especially one as incredible as SKA.Thank you to NCSY and SKA for organizing such an inspiring and memorable trip!

 By Rosie Ash, SKA ’23