Eyewitness account from Christchurch

February 25, 2011 Agencies
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Christchurch Chabad Rabbi Shmuel  Friedman was at the scene moments after Israeli Ofer Mizrahi was killed in the Christchurch earthquake.

Rabbi Friedman was at the scene moments later.  “They said he had already died” said Rabbi Friedman, “I told them that they should not accept that statement, and should do whatever the could to remove him from the wreckage and get him medical treatment”. A Medical professional on the scene later said that he undoubtedly died instantly from the initial impact. Masonry had crashed on to Mizrahi’s car.

Two days before the earthquake struck the New Zealand South Island city over 100 Israeli backpackers spen SHabbat  at the city’s Chabad House which has been totally destroyed.

35-40 Israelis were at the House on the Sunday but only 2 were in the House when the earthquake struck.

Rabbi Friedman said that one Israeli had been injured and that the Israeli embassy’s consul Teddy Poplinger had attended to him, reporting that he is expect to make a complete recovery.

On Thursday the list of missing Israelis was over 80, but by Friday afternoon Rabbi Friedman reported that over 70 of them were located and that there were less than ten yet to be found. This conflivts with a report from Ambassador Shemi Tzur who says that twelve Israelis remain unaccounted for.

A report from Chabad states:

“While there was plenty of food being distributed to the needy we received calls to bring food to a number of Jewish travelers in different shelters around the city, who had not eaten for as long as two days, as the food available had been catered, and not Kosher.

The phone have been ringing non-stop since Tuesday. We are still receiving numerous phone calls and emails from around the world from concerned friends and relatives and also offers of help.

We have arranged for House Calls to be made to members of the community who we couldn’t confirm their well being by telephone – as thousands of homes are out of electricity and phone connection.

We have encouraged everyone to relocate temporarily to the North Island where numerous members of the Jewish community have opened their homes to welcome them in.

We will continue with house calls for those most vulnerable in the quake, the elderly in the community and the home bound.

It sometimes takes a few hours and many phone calls just to ensure that a single individual is OK. Some places have become isolated due to damaged roads and falling debris, so we need to find someone in the immediate vicinity, who themselves may only have a mobile phone.

We have a number of volunteers on the ground, and a few more will be flying in God willing after the weekend.

I believe that there will still be many survivors to be rescued from the wreckage, as more teams of international experts arrive.

Even though I was told that New Zealand has not officially taken on Israel’s offer of help, I can confirm that there are many Israelis involved in the current rescue effort. There are also more Israeli search and rescue experts arriving Sunday.

We must continue to pray for all those affected by this indescribable disaster.

I have received numerous letters and phone calls of support from leaders and dignitaries from around the world (including a letter from Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who has previously reached out to us and our community).

People from around the world are asking what they can do to help; The Rebbe educated us that every single act of goodness and kindness, has a global affect spiritually as well as physically”

We will certainly rebuild the Chabad House be”h, but right now, our focus is on finding those still missing, and caring for those most affected by the quake.

“Our community will stay strong and get through this”…..Rabbi Mendel Golstein.



One Response to “Eyewitness account from Christchurch”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    It’s good the Rabbi said what he did.
    Only God truly knows and from where he know rests Ofer would also know.
    I hope I haven’t encroached upon what you believe.

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