Rabbi Shimon Pelman Of The Dominican Republic Speaks About Haiti Quake


shimon-perlmanJewish organizations and Israeli agencies have been reaching out to assist and collect donations following Tuesday’s massive earthquake in Haiti, which registered 7.3 on the Richter scale. Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital yesterday after the powerful earthquake flattened the president’s palace, the cathedral, hospitals, schools, the main prison and whole neighborhoods.

Officials feared thousands – perhaps more than 100,000 – may have perished, but there was no firm count.

With a per capita income of $3.60 per day, Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, its population is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, such as this massive earthquake.

Officials at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council in Brooklyn have offered their thoughts and prayers to Mathieu Eugene, New York City’s first elected Haitian councilman.

The Chabad Shliach in Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic, Rabbi Shimon Pelman, spoke to COLlive.com from his home in S. Domingo about readying efforts to help.

He is currently attempting to ascertain the whereabouts of a handful of Jewish families and visiting Israelis in Haiti, which comprises the western half of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry reported however that four Israelis were missing in the aftermath of the quake.

Where were you at the time?

Rabbi: “We were in the middle of a Torah class with dozens of members of the community. We suddenly felt a strong shudder, and we immediately understood that it was an earthquake.”

What did you do?

“We closed the books and ran to the doorposts to minimize casualities, G-d forbid. The chandeliers in the room, the tables and chairs, everything was shaking.

“When we went outside we found poeple running in panic. There was a real hysteria.”

Rabbi Pelman, checking in with news websites, learned about the magnitute of the eathquake and the warnings about a possible tsunami “as the city is near the ocean.”

How long are you living there?

“We are here only two years and already have an active shul, Kosher shechita, classes and activities with youths and businessman.”

What is your connection to Haiti’s Jews?

“There are very few Jews living there and we are in touch with them. It’s a poor country.”

Are you in touch with the ZAKA rescue team?

“Sure. We are preparing kosher food for them, and hope there are no Jews among the victims in this tragic event.”

{COLlive/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}