After Hurricane Sandy, I joined other students in a disaster relief trip to the New York area. It's hard to describe a volunteer trip that encompassed so many different emotions.
It was shocking to have to tear down the walls of a beautiful synagogue, while damaged prayer books were laid out to dry a floor above us. It was moving to see a Jewish homeowner's face as she took in the many volunteers standing in her driveway, armed with hammers and crowbars and ready to help. It was inspiring to meet so many other like-minded undergraduate and graduate students and hear them speak of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
We were very sore at the end of each day, as much of our time was spent tearing down plasterboard, prying up floorboards, and lugging damaged materials outside. However, I know that we all went to sleep at night feeling good about how the day was spent. I want to thank TOV, project Nechama and Hillel of Illinois for giving us the opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of other Jews this winter break.