Temple Tikvah experiences severe damage due to Ida

Originally published in The Island Now on September 15, 2021.

Temple Tikvah in New Hyde Park experienced severe damage from flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The temple, which serves parts of western Nassau County and eastern Queens, faces an uncertain recovery period as repairs continue. 

Temple President Andrea Comerchero and Rabbi Randy E. Sheinberg walked into what appeared to be over four feet of water in their building. Flooding was caused by rising levels in nearby Herricks Pond that overflowed downhill onto Herricks Road. 

“We had a feeling of what to expect, but it was heartbreaking coming in at 7 a.m.; you just wanted to cry,” said Sheinberg, who has been with the temple since its inception in 2008. 

According to temple leaders, the furniture was damaged and schoolbooks were floating in the water, but the Torahs were in good condition. 

The water damage was mostly in the lower part of the building and courtyard, the location of the religious school. Carpeting throughout the building, such as the common area and ballroom, and the wood paneling for most of the school have been removed as recovery efforts go on. 

Classes were set to begin on Sunday, but the temple was able to adjust and hold orientation for the approximately 40 students in the parking lot.

Aside from religious services and education, multiple organizations usually meet throughout the week at the temple, and they have been displaced due to the damage,  Comerchero said. 

While the temple adjusts, neighboring congregations have offered their spaces for services, the president said. She also said that moving to a hybrid scheduling, if need be, is something the temple, which is predominantly made up of volunteers, is used to.

“If there was any silver lining to take from this, we are all already used to an online format,” Comerchero said.  

For regular services throughout the year, the temple could expect about 30 to 80 people either in the sanctuary room or ballroom. As for holy days like Yom Kippur, on Wednesday, the temple can expect closer to 400. 

FEMA and the Office of Emergency Management have already come by to assess what the temple projects to be upwards of over $1 million in damage, Comerchero said. U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has lent his support as well as state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), who has toured the temple to view the damage herself. “We are … telling everyone ‘please come here, we are still with you’ and it’s been enlightening seeing the response from our community,” Comerchero said. 

Anyone who wishes to help support Temple Tikvah as it recovers can do so at the website www.templetikvah.org by clicking on the “Donate” tab.