Being here in New Orléans is amazing. The last time I was here was the early 1980’s. So to be here now in Post Katrina New Orléans is really something. The city is still rebuilding. And lots of areas that are still in need of help. But there is a spirit here that is hard to quantify. New Orléans always was a party city. Unique. But there is a special spirit of renewal here that is unlike any I have felt in a while. Tulane President Dr. Scott Cowan spoke to us on the first night of the conference. He talked about the resilience of the people of New Orléans. That spirit of resilience and innovation is helping New Orléans come back. The city went from a population of about 450,000 way down. Now it has climbed back to over 350,000. There are some people who will never return having rebuilt their lives elsewhere (Houston, Dallas, Baton Rouge). But there are lots of others moving in. Taking a chance. There are lots of young people being attracted to New Orléans for this can do spirit.
And its invigorating.
In talking to some of the interfaith clergy leaders that came to study and dialog with us here at the Central Conference of American Rabbis Convention, I learned about the many civic projects that they are involved with. And the many projects that they worked on together to bring back this city from the annihilation of Katrina. They have done incredible work together and there is a wonderful spirit of interfaith cooperation here that is a model for other communities. There is a respect that comes from building with the hands and the heart. In New Orleans there hasn’t just been talking at each other but joining together to literally rebuild homes and parks and lives.
That is the spirit of cooperation, collaboration and renewal.
Now if we could only do that for the rest of America!!!!