After Australia’s tight-knit Jewish community of Cairns experienced its worst flooding in history, Rabbi Ari and Mushkie Rubin have been tirelessly coordinating relief efforts for displaced numerous Jewish families.
In the aftermath of Cairns’ worst flooding in history, numerous Jewish families find themselves displaced, grappling with water damage, loss of basic services, and even the presence of stray crocodiles in the flooded areas.
Rabbi Ari Rubin, based in Cairns and co director of Chabad North Queensland an associated community with Chabad of Rural and Regional Australia, revealed that between ten and twenty Jewish families have experienced flooded homes, with at least two lacking insurance coverage. Amid the chaos, Rabbi Rubin and his wife Mushkie have been tirelessly coordinating assistance efforts within the tight-knit Cairns Jewish community and with help of the Queensland Jewish Board of Deputees
Myra Gold, a resident of Machans Beach, expressed her gratitude, saying, ‘Thank you to the wonderful Rabbi Ari Rubin who gave me shelter when I was homeless for the past two weeks and has helped me gain calm in the most turbulent time of my life,’ sharing to Facebook.
Gold estimates she will be homeless for three months or more, and is looking for temporary accommodation that will be covered by her insurance company.
Despite the situation she is in, she commented on Facebook that she is keen to make a donation to help other Jewish people impacted by the floods.
Highlighting the severity of the situation, Rabbi Rubin mentioned the ongoing support provided to the Rossignoli family, who not only lost part of their house to the floods but also faced hospitalisation due to related injuries.
Despite facing personal challenges, the affected families are demonstrating resilience. Pamela Taylor-Ray, part of a family of five who lost their rented home in Yorkey’s Knob, shared her experience of evacuation and the unexpected assistance received from the community. “The Jewish community up here is wonderful, and mostly know one another,” she remarked.
“We were woken up on Sunday morning by a call to evacuate, but it was too late for us, as floodwaters surrounded us. The streets were flooded, and my husband saw a five-foot crocodile chewing on a fish in our garage!”
“The SES volunteers were great, and took us in two little canoes to the main road, then by 4WD to the shopping centre, and finally a yacht club, where we met a patron called Michael, who incredibly offered us temporary accommodation in his granny flat, for free,” she said.
Taylor-Ray – who has mostly called Cairns home since 2001, but never witnessed homes being inundated – had phoned the Rubins, who promptly invited her family to their place, and gave their children donated clothing.
As the Cairns Jewish community navigates this crisis, efforts are underway to connect impacted families with essential resources, including temporary accommodations, clothing, and non-perishable food donations. The unity and support within the community stand as a testament to the strength and resilience of the Cairns Jewish families in the face of adversity.
“It’s funny, one of the possessions I managed to save were my tichels but unfortunately my Siddur was turned into a brick and unsalvagable” Taylor-Ray said.
“Even though we’re currently homeless, and we’ll have to replace our car too, as long as all five of us are safe – which we are – we are going to be okay, and get through this.”