Jewish Phi­lan­thropists Launch On­line Cam­paign to Aid Puerto Rico

Ge­orge and Pamela Rohr, and an anony­mous donor, join Chabad’s ef­forts on the ground

The Jewish Voice - - SPECIAL FEATURES - By: Eric Berger

Agroup of donors have agreed to match con­tri­bu­tions to Chabad Lubav­itch of Puerto Rico to­tal­ing $125,000 as part of a 30-hour cam­paign to help the Jewish cen­ter in its re­lief ef­forts fol­low­ing Hur­ri­cane Maria.

Long­time Jewish phi­lan­thropists Ge­orge and Pamela Rohr have of­fered $100,000—and an anony­mous donor has of­fered $25,000—to jump-start a cam­paign that be­gan last Mon­day at 3 p.m., East­ern Stan­dard Time.

The Chabad cen­ter, co-di­rected by Rabbi Men­del and RachelZarchi, is do­ing all it can to as­sist in re­cov­ery ef­forts on the is­land, where the ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents still do not have power—and many lack potable wa­ter—fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing Sept. 20 storm.

“We rec­og­nize that we can't help ev­ery­one, but we all need to do our part, our share. Our model is to help one per­son, one fam­ily, at a time, and if we all make that con­certed ef­fort, the dif­fer­ence will be great,” Rabbi Zarchi tells

Most of the build­ings on the is­land have suf­fered some phys­i­cal dam­age, and wa­ter has seeped or flooded into homes, busi­nesses and prop­er­ties, re­ports Zarchi. Loot­ing has also re­sulted, par­tic­u­larly of cars and other ve­hi­cles.

The rabbi es­ti­mates that more than half of the 2,500 Jewish res­i­dents have left Puerto Rico, though he de­scribes their exit as tem­po­rary. Other res­i­dents have not been able to leave and are of­ten in worse shape, he says. Doc­tors have warned of the po­ten­tial for dis­ease out­breaks be­cause of con­tam­i­nated wa­ter be­ing used for drink­ing, cook­ing, clean­ing and wash­ing. “It in­spires and ob­li­gates us to help those who are less for-

tu­nate,” says Zarchi, who is one of seven Chabad staff mem­bers now of­fer­ing as­sis­tance on the is­land.

The funds will go to­wards items such as baby for­mula, di­a­pers, non­per­ish­able food prod­ucts, first-aid sup­plies, cloth­ing and blan­kets. De­spite the fact that re­cov­ery will likely hap­pen slowly—an­a­lysts have es­ti­mated that it could cost as much as $95 bil­lion—Zarchi in­sists that he and other Chabad rep­re­sen­ta­tives are “here to see it through to the end.”

Last month, two planes char­tered by Chabad donors de­liv­ered es­sen­tials to the is­land.

“Puerto Rico will flour­ish again,” says the rabbi, “with the Jewish com­mu­nity be­ing a very big part of that re­newal.”

Rabbi Men­del Zarchi, right, co-di­rec­tor of Chabad Lubav­itch of Puerto Rico, and as­sis­tants on the ground have been work­ing non­stop on re­cov­ery ef­forts af­ter Hur­ri­cane Maria plowed over the is­land on Sept. 20. A 30-hour Jewish fundrais­ing cam­paign was also launched on Oct. 16 to as­sist res­i­dents, many of whom re­main with­out power and potable wa­ter

Long­time Jewish phi­lan­thropist Ge­orge Rohr (pic­tured above) and his wife Pamela have of­fered $100,000—and an anony­mous donor has of­fered $25,000—to jump-start a cam­paign that be­gan Mon­day at 3 p.m., East­ern Stan­dard Time.

The rabbi hands out clean­ing sup­plies to a line of wait­ing peo­ple

Of­fi­cers or­ga­nize do­nated goods for dis­tri­bu­tion gath­ered at the Chabad cen­ter

Talk­ing with res­i­dents to as­sess needs; many still lack power and ac­cess to clean wa­ter.

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