Close call for Chabad House

September 14, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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The original Chabad House has not survived the Christchurch earthquake…but its replacement is now fully operational.

Condemned - The former Chabad House

It is only a 30 second walk from what was Chabad House in the New Zealand South Island city to its successor which was opened only 18 months ago. The former House has been condemned following structural damage incurred by last week’s earthquake which registered 7.4 on the Richter Scale.

The new Chabad House is very close by has been given the green light by local authorities and will host a pre-fast feast on Erev Yom Kippur this week.

Israel ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur, has visited the Christchurch community.

Its spiritual leader Rabbi Mendel Goldstein told J-Wire: “I met with him for over two hours. We discussed  the situation here in the aftermath of the earthquake and I showed him around areas destroyed by the quake. I showed him the Chabad House. Even the Seforim on the Shelves were still exactly in place as if nothing had happened. It’s nothing short of a miracle from Hashem”.

The current Chabad House occupies the first floor of a building above the city’s Kosher restaurant. It houses a New York t style leadligh skylight well-known in the city made up of 1500 pieces of glass. It survived the earthquake intact.

Rabbi Mendel Goldstein and Ambassador Shemi Tzur

The Ambassador and rabbi also talked about Chabad’s work with the 20,000 Israeli backpackers who travel through the South Island each year

The current Chabad House

Rabbi Goldstein added: “We also talk about “Hasbara” and about the improvements of our current Government with regard to Israel”.

Edward Adams, president of the city’s Canterbury Hebrew Congregation, told J-Wire:  “I am happy to report that we are well, if somewhat unnerved by the long succession of after-shocks and some of our members have suffered serious damage to their homes. The authorities are coping extremely well but there is a lot to be done. Fortunately we are in a position not to require outside help but we acknowlege the many messages of support and sympathy we have received from other communities and well-wishers. The synagogue has just undergone extensive repairs and has been declared safe and services will resume with Kol Nidrei on Friday.”

The Chabad House lead light window survives 7.4 earthquake

Adams also met with Ambassador Tzur. He added: “We had a splendid meeting with Shemi Tzur at which he engaged in conversation with a receptive group of community members. He talked about improved relations with NZ government, the difficulties Israel has and particularly the threat posed by Iran. He and his wife are very personable characters and we look forward to keeping in touch with the Israel Embassy in Wellington.”

Chabad House will not open for Yom Kippur as the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation is the spiritual orthodox focal point for the city’s community.

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