Sam Goldenberg (right) at a NFTY-TOR event.

On Sukkot, we build temporary dwellings to remind us of the temporary dwellings the Jewish people had while wandering in Egypt. This year, Sukkot means something very different to me.

My name is Sam Goldenberg and I am part of the NFTY-TOR regional leadership as a Ruach (Spirit) Leader on our regional Cabinet.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, my family and I were evacuated from our home by the Texas National Guard. My sisters and I had to swim to their truck, with our bags above our heads. The truck was open-air, and wet. We drove around for three hours – none of the National Guard knew where to take us. We were turned away from a fire station, then sent to a church. We were housed in a temporary shelter at a church with no running water, no food, and limited restroom access. We were lucky. Other evacuees at the church that didn’t arrive by boat swam, took a Jet Ski, or had been brought in on an air mattress, as they were too sick to walk.


Damage from Sam’s Home

After five hours at the church, we were moved to the Convention Center, where we could walk to a hotel. We stayed at that hotel for a week. Our house had taken on eight inches of water, and 18 inches in the garage. Our cars were totaled, and my first floor is being rebuilt as I type this (floors are in, hurray!) I started school three weeks late, and have been restricted to living on the second floor of my house. And yet, there are so many worse off than my family.

For Sukkot this year, we must not only build a sukkah, a temporary dwelling, but we must look to those who have lost their permanent dwellings. Come to the Houston Mitzvah Corps Event, and TOR rebuild our city and help families go back to their permanent dwellings. I so look forward to seeing you there!

Sam Goldenberg is a Junior in high school in Bellaire, TX. Samis on NFTY-TOR regional leadership as a Ruach Leader.