LETTER TO EDITOR: Thanks offered to community for response to synagogue fire – The Daily Iberian

Posted By on May 3, 2020

This is a tale of two stories. The first one is a potential tragedy. As many of you know, lightning struck the roof of the Jewish Synagogue in New Iberia on the morning of April 28. An employee of Schwing Insurance Agency noted smoke billowing out of the roof vents minutes later and contacted 911. When the fire personnel arrived on the scene, the attic space of the historic synagogue (built in 1903) was already in flames.

The second part of the story is one of professionalism, community pride, and the generosity of the citizens of Iberia Parish. Fire Chief Coppell and the heroes he works with were exceptional. They assited in removing important religious artifacts from the building to protect them from fire or water damage. They were able to contain the fire primarily to the attic, ceiling and roof structure saving the majority of the historic building. Chief Copell even returned to the building himself several times during the day to ensure that no embers had reignited the blaze. Mayor Freddie DeCourt was on scene, both providing moral support and helping to remove items from the building to protect them from the fire. Chet and Armand Schwing offered to store any items removed from the synagogue at their insurance agency until they could be returned to the building.

The citizens of New Iberia have been extremely generous in their response to this event. Within hours of the fire, several churches in town had contacted me to offer their buildings to our Congregation as a place to hold our religious services if needed. I especially would like to thank the leaders at the First United Methodist Church, the First Baptist Church, and the First Presbyterian Church. In addition, many residents and civic organizations have already offered donations or fund-raising efforts to raise money to rebuild our House of Worship. We are currently working with our insurance carrier to see where we stand financially, but we certainly appreciate everyones efforts on our behalf.

This is why we all chose to live in New Iberia. The food, the weather, the culture and the beauty of the land are all important. But it is the people here that make this area unique. While the citizens in other areas of the country appear frequently to be divisive, we pull together to help one another. We treat our neighbors as family, regardless of race or religion. It is the right thing to do. It is what we do in New Iberia.

On behalf of the Jewish Community here and the members of the Congregation Gates of Prayer Synagogue, I offer our sincere thanks to everyone in our city for their kindness and prayers during this difficult time.

(President of Congregation Gates of Prayer)

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LETTER TO EDITOR: Thanks offered to community for response to synagogue fire - The Daily Iberian

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