Communique from the Israeli Embassy in New Zealand

February 25, 2011 Agencies
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Israel’s Ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur,  has sent a message to the New Zealand community updating the situation in Christchurch…12 Israelis remain unaccounted for. J-Wire publishes Ambassador Tzur’s message in full. It was sent to the community leadership throughout the country who passed it on to their members.

Dear Friends,

Christchurch's Rabbi Mendel Goldstein with Ambassador Shemi Tzur

Shalom. I am writing to share with you some relevant information about our activity in the wake of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch.

Firstly, emergency centres monitoring the ongoing situation have been set up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Jerusalem, and at the Israeli Embassy here in Wellington. Informed that a significant number of young Israelis were in the affected region, our Consul, Teddy Poplinger, immediately traveled to Christchurch to provide assistance.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke with both Prime Minister John Key and the Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully. The Israeli ministers extended their sympathies and, drawing on Israel’s own experience in dealing with the aftermath of multiple tragedies, the offer of any practical assistance the New Zealand government might request.

Mr Lieberman also thanked Mr McCully for the government’s efficiency in helping locate Israelis affected by the temblor.

Our Embassy is working around the clock to deal with the situation, especially in respect of visiting Israelis whose documentation was lost in the chaos.

I spent all of this past Thursday in Christchurch – it was a singularly distressing visit.

While in the city, I met with the chief of police, army personnel, search-and-rescue teams, Israeli visitors and members of the Jewish community. I visited, as well, some of the city’s most badly damaged sites as well as the main hospital and relief centre. AT the same time, Teddy and I updated local authorities on the latest information about previously unaccounted Israeli visitors.

In addition, the Embassy has issued a number of new passports for those who have lost theirs in the earthquake, and we have given help in finding alternative accommodations and flights for those affected.

We are grateful for the support of Rabbi David Alima, in Wellington, and the many kind and wonderful locals — Jewish and Christian alike — who have opened their hearts and homes, reaching their hand out to those Israelis who have lost all their belongings.

In summary, as of 1pm, February 25, 2011:


·        One Israeli is known to have perished in Tuesday’s earthquake, and another 12 nationals remain unaccounted for. All efforts to deal with both situations continue.

·        In respect of the Christchurch Jewish community, I spoke with the former community president, Betina Wallace, who assured me that all registered members have been accounted for. The synagogue was, however, lightly damaged, and would be closed until further notice.

·        The Chabad assistant rabbi, Shmuel Friedman, told me that the Chabad house was destroyed. Fortunately, no people were inside it at the time.

·        In my last conversation with the Foreign Minister, Mr McCully, he reiterated the government’s appreciation for Israel’s moral and practical support. Mr McCully said that the assessment of foreign aid was ongoing and that the government would be in touch as necessary.

Please forward this to all members of our communities.

Shabbat Shalom and Besorot Tovot.



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