In October, after Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas in unprecedented rainfall, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta started collecting supplies to send to the water-logged communities. Then it was asked to focus on Whiteville, a town of about 5,600, nestled between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, with only four Jewish families left in what was once a relatively thriving Jewish community.
“We had been planning the logistics when this opportunity came up,” said Yisrael Frenkel, Federation vice president of donor services, who coordinated the effort.
The “ask” came from Jennifer Kamin Kulbersh, who was born in Atlanta, grew up in Whiteville, and now lives in Birmingham with her husband and three young children. She and her sister, Heidi Kamin Enzor – who evacuated to Birmingham with her son as the storm approached – launched the collection drive.
Her stepfather, Gary Kramer, who still owns a downtown Whiteville building, reports that the recovery in the area has been slow. “Recovery is going to be more of a marathon than a sprint,” he told the Jewish Times through Kulbersh. A slowing economy and lack of insurance have impeded the process.
But the sluggishness of the rebound was at least somewhat mitigated by the 30 boxes of baby food, cleaning supplies, diapers, toothbrushes, flashlights and water bottles that the Atlanta Jewish community collected. Volunteers from The Weber School along with Federation staff spent a day packing the material by category at Congregation Or VeShalom. Then it was lifted into an 18-wheel truck sent from Birmingham that stopped in Atlanta on its way to Whiteville.
Frenkel told the Jewish Times that he received a handwritten thank you note from Kulbersh that read: “The impact your community has made for my hometown and surrounding areas has left me almost speechless. … It has been a journey getting all of this organized and without the Atlanta community, the impact would not have been so vast.”
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