Community Responds to Atlanta’s Winter Chaos

Community Responds to Atlanta’s Winter Chaos


During the snow storm last week, I – along with many other teachers – was at The Epstein School taking care of students who had not been picked up at carpool due to the bad weather and dangerous roads.

I have to begin my thank you’s to the children who made the afternoon and early evening so much easier by treating it all as an adventure. From preschool to middle school, the children were amazing.

Next on my list are the administrative staff, maintenance staff and my co-teachers who played, laughed and fed everyone. Our grilled cheese may not make it into anyone’s gourmet cookbook, but that evening, there was nothing better.

And then there are the wonderful and generous parents who called – not only to find out how their own children were faring, but how we their teachers were doing.

I had telephone calls and text messages from parents whose children were already safe in their home wanting to know if they could bring anything. Did we have anywhere to sleep? Could they call anyone for us?

I saw parents who no longer had children at Epstein come to the school to offer to take children and teachers who might need a bed for the night.

I have no dramatic story to tell; I was not stuck on any freeway running out of gas. I was safe at school, but it would be impossible to drive home.

Finally, when all the children had left, I along with my peers Loraine Sher and Sara Fran Neuwirth, were driven to the home of the Srochi family by Phil Greenspon. There, we were given a five-star welcome: dinner, bed and breakfast, and good company. We even got new toothbrushes each.

So thank you Allison Srochi, David Srochi, Lilly Srochi and of course Ryan Srochi. You made the unbearable bearable and went above and beyond with your thoughtfulness, generosity and sense of humor through it all.

– Joan Lewis




After another ordinary week in Sandy Springs and in the life of our congregation, what could I possibly write about in this week’s column…?

How about the incredibly thoughtful and compassionate acts of kindness demonstrated by countless people throughout our community and city during the snow and ice debacle on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday?

While there are far more stories than I can include here, allow me to share a few that are worthy of note:

  • With only a few teachers and one preschool student remaining in the building Tuesday afternoon, Carol Epstein (our Early Childhood Director) gathered everyone together and braved the roads and traffic in order to meet the girl’s parents who were stuck in traffic and still hours away. She then provided housing for her staff unable to get home on Tuesday night. Relatedly, Andre Parker (Maintenance Supervisor) provided housing for other staff who, after over 10 hours on the road, were simply unable to get home.
  • After a few hours of precipitation, Temple Sinai’s driveway and Dupree Dr were no longer navigable for some of our staff. Consequently, Warren Zindler (our Interim Executive Director), along with Ellyse Zindler, chose to stay overnight at the synagogue to accompany those who were stuck for the night.
  • Sinai member Adam Clark (GM of Stars and Strikes Family Entertainment Center) really did a mitzvah by walking down Roswell Road and coordinating with police to open up the facility as a shelter. He eventually welcomed over 75 stranded adults and kids to the center, allowing adults to relax and kids to play games to help ease the anxiety of their circumstances.
  • Countless members of the congregation were kind enough to take food to people who were stuck in their cars. Many parents retrieved not only their own children but several others as well whose parents couldn’t get to school, either driving them home or keeping them overnight until it was possible to get them home.
  • Our friends at Holy Innocents opened their church facility and remained overnight so they could serve as a shelter for over 80 stranded motorists on Tuesday evening.
  • With over 40 elementary students overnighting at the school around the corner from my house, several neighbors took it upon themselves to walk blankets and pillows to the school so the children would have something to keep them warm and comfortable during the evening.
  • Sinai member and newly elected Sandy Springs City Council Representative Andy Bauman was kind enough to send regular email updates to all on his distribution list with important information about road closures, city updates, and related reports.

These are obviously just a few of what constituted innumerable acts of gemilut chasadim (acts of loving-kindness) that transpired throughout the region in recent days.

Although Metro Atlanta area governments did not fare very well during this past week’s extreme weather, we can at least draw a measure of comfort and warmth from the acts of compassion and heart displayed by countless people – friend and stranger alike – in the midst of crisis.

All of you who reached out to assist others affirm a profound and central truth from our tradition: “Al sh’losha d’varim ha’olam omed: al haTorah, al ha-avodah, v’al gemilut chasadim – The stability of our world relies upon the presence of three crucial things: on study, on worship and on your acts of loving kindness.”


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ron Segal

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