Six Jews Among the Victims in Mexico City’s Earthquake

Six Jews were killed by the earthquake that devastated the center of Mexico City last Thursday. They were buried yesterday, Rabbi Morton Rosenthal, director of the Latin American Affairs department of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people were killed in the earthquake.

One of the dead was a woman who succumbed to a heart attack, brought on apparently by the quake. The others appear to have died in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Rosenthal obtained his information from sources in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, who were unable to supply names or ages of of Jewish victims. The sources told him they had telex communications with Mexico City which, four days after the disaster remains unreachable by telephone from the United States.

Rosenthal confirmed reports from other Jewish groups here that the main Jewish residential neighborhoods in Mexico City sustained little or no earthquake damage. But Jewish owned businesses, warehouses and factories near the center of the city are believed to have suffered severe damage and property loss could be heavy. Those premises, however, were not occupied during the early morning hours when the quake struck.

DAMAGES TO JEWISH BUILDINGS

Rosenthal was the first to report Jewish fatalities. He said that the Ashkenazic Kehila building, known locally by its address, Acapulco 70, had smashed windows but apparently no other serious damage. The building, housing the offices of the Ashkenazic community, is located in the Condessa district, not far from the center of the city.

Rosenthal said there was also some damage to an old Sephardic synagogue. Otherwise, the Sephardic neighborhood in the Polanka district was unharmed, according to Yitzhak Schonfeld, a 22-year-old Brooklynite who has been a student at the Keter Tora Yeshiva in Mexico City for four years and returned home Saturday night. He spoke to the JTA by phone yesterday. He said “many buildings were destroyed” in the Jewish textile industry section of the city and that some buildings in the Ashkenazic neighborhood were cracked.

A spokesperson for the American Jewish Committee told the JTA today that as far as they knew as of this morning, “the neighborhoods more or less where Jews live were not touched” by the earthquake and that the Israel Embassy in Mexico City was not damaged.

Sidney Gruber of the World Jewish Congress, said he heard “second hand” that the areas where most Jews live were undamaged. He said he has been trying, so far without success, to contact the offices of the Committee Central Israelita de Mexico.

Jacob Kovadloff of the AJCommittee’s Latin American department told the JTA he had to rely on friends in Houston for information on Mexico City Jews because telephone and cable connections are down.

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