Nothing was going to stop Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz from performing prayer services Tuesday night for the commencement of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, even though a terrible cyclone had just torn through his neighborhood a few days before.
Jews planned to hold worship services for Yom Kippur, a day when they fast for 24 hours and ask forgiveness for the wrongs they have committed throughout the year, throughout southwest Florida devastated by Hurricane Ian.
However, many were doing so with plans that the storm had significantly altered.
Due to the accumulation of roadway debris and the lack of working traffic lights, some congregations decided not to attend the crucial Kol Nidre ceremony on Tuesday night. It was being held online by others.
With the aid of caterers from South Florida, on the other side of the state, Minkowicz’s religiously traditional Chabad Lubavitch of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers arranged a community supper before the fasting period began at nightfall Tuesday.
Some of the buildings were submerged in the 5-acre (2-hectare) complex.
However, the main structure, where about 50 people sought shelter during the hurricane, was relatively unchanged due to its more significant elevation.
When the power returned on Sunday night, the campus had transformed into a type of community center with food trucks and a food pantry.
A sizable tent was set up in the parking area where anyone from the neighborhood or the synagogue might swing by for dinner.
Yom Kippur services would be held in person at Temple Beth El in Fort Myers on Wednesday, but Kol Nidre services would only be offered online on Tuesday.
However, because utility trucks were utilizing the parking lot as a rest space for utility worker breaks, plans for the congregation, a part of the progressive Reform movement, had been in turmoil.
By Wednesday’s services, the vehicles were supposed to be gone.