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Former Secretary Helps Beth Israel

from your Friends at

Following the flooding of our synagogue after Hurricane Katrina, you participated in the retrieval of our Holy Torah Scrolls, by accepting them after their removal from the water-filled Holy Arks, carefully taking them to your home, and lovingly placing them in a temporary burial place in your own backyard, in a grave personally dug by your hands.

By such acts of loving-kindness, you deserve to be recognized and honored according to Jewish tradition, as a "RIGHTEOUS GENTILE."

We love you, Becky.

March 19, 2006

Object Type: Online Text

Following the removal of the 7 Torah Scrolls from the flooded Sanctuaries of Congregation Beth Israel, a former secretary of the congregation, Mrs. Becky Heggelund,who was back in her home west of New Orleans after the Katrina flooding, assisted in the rescue of the scrolls, despite the fact that they had been ruined beyond repair from being in the water for almost 2 1/2 weeks.
According to Jewish tradition, unusable Torah Scrolls are given a burial with the same respect and treatment as if a person is being laid to rest. The Beth Israel Cemetery was also under water and no members had yet returned to the City following the mandatory evacuation. After Becky was contacted by phone by Jackie Gothard, president of the Congregation, she agreed to meet Isaac Leider at a local rescue staging are, took the Torah scrolls to her home, and following consultations by phone with Jackie Gothard (evacuated to Dallas) and Rabbi Yisroel Shiff of Beth Israel (evacuated to Memphis), Becky alone wrapped the Scrolls as respectfully as she could, dug a "grave" large enough to accomodate 7 full-size Sifre Torah scrolls, and temporarily buried them in her own back yard.
When they were eventually laid to rest at a very sad, yet historic ceremony in Beth Israel's cemetery in mid-March 2006, Becky Heggelund was presented with a plaque which reads as follows:

presented to


Citation Information:

Jackie Gothard, "Former Secretary Helps Beth Israel." Katrina's Jewish Voices, Object #429 (March 03 2021, 10:44 am)