United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism congregations in southern California

The following letters were written by leadership from United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism congregations in southern California after the fires abated: Shalom Chevre, As all of you know, southern California has been devastated by fires. The city of Poway was not only ravaged by fires, but surrounded by them on all sides. We have been forced to evacuate our home, along with 350,000 fellow San Diegans. My aunt has a summer home on the island of Coronado, just south of San Diego, and we were blessed to be able to stay here along with our extended family. The air quality is very bad, and I have many friends who have lost their homes. Our home was spared, as was our shul, but destruction surrounds us. The Torahs have been removed from the Aron Hakodesh and are safe outside the city limits. The officials have handled the situation in an exemplary manner, as evidenced by the immediate level of response and the few fatalities and injuries. Please pray for those still in danger and for those who will have to rebuild their lives. May G-d grant them strength and fortitude to go on, and may G-d grant our firefighters the stamina to continue fighting the deadly and unpredictable forces that surround us. Thank you all for your emails and thoughts during this tragedy. I am most appreciative and grateful. B'shalom, Diana Lerner Immediate Past President Ner Tamid Synagogue Poway, California
Chevre - The fires in San Diego have been devastating. My estimate is that over 75% of our members had to evacuate their homes starting Monday. Many of the families have been able to return to their homes as of today, but we still have a lot of families who are subject to mandatory evacuations. We removed the Torahs from the synagogue early Monday morning as a precaution. There has not been any damage to the Beth Am facilities, but some of our members have apparently lost their homes. We are still assessing the extent of the damage to our community. As of now we intend to re-open in time for Shabbat on Friday night. Thanks for the support and well wishes we have received. B'shalom, Rick Schwartz President Congregation Beth Am San Diego, California