Masorti Movement: Synagogue in Concepcion destroyed in Earthquake

According to the Masorti Olami, the Masorti synagogue in Concepcion was destroyed in the earthquake that rocked Chile this weekend. 

The head of the Masorti Movement, Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, has been circulating an email stating that the walls were cracked, the roof caved in.

“’In Concepcion, close to the epicenter of the earthquake, Rabbi Angel Kreiman told us that he went to the Synagogue, and ‘it was like the hurban habayit (destruction of the temple), the walls were all cracked and the roof had fallen down. I couldn’t stay there, so I got the sifrei Torah and left,’” Graetz wrote.

For more information visit http://tiny.cc/masortiolami

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has said that it has a representative on the ground in Chile and that the local community will tell the Joint what it needs.

But, even though rumors of the synagogue’s destruction had started circulating Tuesday, the Joint had not heard of any damage in Concepcion as of Wednesday afternoon.

“In Conception, there are 20 Jewish families, and communication is down,” Will Recant, the head of the Joint’s IDP program, which oversees disaster relief said Wednesday afternoon. “There are no reports of Jewish injury or loss of life. What most people don’t realize is that the case of Chile rough terrain makes it difficult to reach the hardest hit areas. That is why there was looting in conception. It will take a long time to get relief there. We have not heard directly about damage in Conecepcion, just about the wall of cemetery falling down in Santiago.”

This is the email from Massorti (Hat Tip to Lynn Payne at the Orlando Heritage News):

Dear Friends,

The response to our Chile Earthquake Relief Fund, which we began on Monday of this week, has been extremely moving. So many of our supporters have sent good wishes, and the volume and speed at which people have sent donations has been impressive.

Many people have sent us questions and asked for an update about the situation in Chile, so here is the latest:

What is the Masorti community in Chile like?

Most of the Jews in Chile are Masorti, and are affiliated to Masorti congregations. There are 6 Masorti congregations in total; 4 of them in Santiago, 1 in Vina del Mar, and 1 in Concepcion. A total of 7 Masorti Rabbis serve these kehillot, which also have active branches of the Chazit HaNoar and NOAM youth movements, the MAROM young adult movement, and regular Batei Midrash study groups. Masorti youth are very active, and Chile has large summer camps each year, as well as a Masorti Jewish day school, and a wide array of local community social action projects.

Is everyone in the Jewish community ok?

We have managed to contact our Rabbis in Chile, who have reported that they and their families are ok. Rabbi Marcelo Kormis in Santiago told us, "Thank god we are ok. It was terrible. 2 million people are injured. We pray for them. Thank you for your concern."

How about damage?

In Concepcion, close to the epicenter of the earthquake, Rabbi Angel Kreiman told us that he went to the Synagogue, and "it was like the hurban habayit (destruction of the temple), the walls were all cracked and the roof had fallen down. I couldn’t stay there, so I got the sifrei Torah and left."Rabbi Shmuel Szteinhendler in Santiago told us, "we have some damage to our home, but it’s not too severe. We will try and replace things and try to go on, while also assisting our kehillah members and at the same time supporting the local community at large who have suffered so much."  

How is the Masorti Olami Chile Earthquake Relief Fund going to help?

The Rabbis, along with leaders of the Jewish community have come together to form a Crisis Committee. They are the ones best placed to decide where the funds that we have raised will go. Rabbi Alejandro Bloch of Santiago told us on Monday, "we have invited all of the community to Ma’ariv, and will make sure that all their basic needs are taken care of." 

All donations that we receive will be sent to Chile for the rebuilding and repairs to our synagogues and the homes of our Masorti kehillot, as well as the wider Chilean community. These funds will ensure that our friends and colleagues will be able to pick up the pieces of their lives quickly and with the knowledge that they are supported by Jews from around the world. We hope that this recovery will be quick, as Rabbi Szteinhendler told us, "We”ll try to manage everything and get things straight as soon as possible, hopefully in time for Pesach."

To make a donation to our Relief Fund, please click here.

Thank you for your support,

Rabbi Tzvi Graetz
Executive Director, Masorti Olami

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