SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A Jewish center in an earthquake-ravaged New Zealand city was discovered undamaged.
The Chabad House in Christchurch was not damaged by the earthquakes that ravaged much of the central business district of New Zealand’s second-largest city.
Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, the U.S.-born director of Chabad in New Zealand, spent Rosh Hashanah unable to ascertain whether the building, which houses New Zealand’s only kosher restaurant on the ground floor, was destroyed after the Sept. 4 quake because of a state of emergency imposed by the government.
Downtown Christchurch was under curfew following several powerful aftershocks.
Goldstein and Shemi Tzur, Israel’s new ambassador to Wellington, visited the site Monday afternoon.
“Thank God the Chabad House survived the quake completely intact,” Goldstein said. “Even the books on the shelves were still exactly in place as if nothing had happened. It’s nothing short of a miracle.”
The Torah scroll was in his house because he had lent it to the Chabad house in Dunedin, the rabbi said.
The ceiling in Goldstein’s dining room collapsed amid the tremor that registered 7.1 on the Richter scale.
The Chabad House, which opened 18 months ago, is located only a few hundred yards from the building that had housed the former center; it was badly damaged by the earthquake and was condemned.
About 2,000 Jews live in Christchurch, on the south island. The city’s one synagogue also was undamaged by the quake.