SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A new Chabad House opened on New Zealand’s South Island nearly a year after a devastating earthquake in the area.
The opening in Queenstown comes just weeks before the Chabad center in Christchurch is razed in the aftermath of last February’s quake there that claimed more than 180 lives, including three Israelis.
More than 50 people, mostly Israeli backpackers, inaugurated the new building with a Shabbat meal on Jan. 13, according to Rabbi Shmuel Koppel, who established the Queenstown facility.
“If that is how many came the first Shabbat, [imagine] how many will come next week,” he said.
More than 1,000 Jews live on the South Island, and Chabad estimates that more than 40,000 Jews visit the country annually. Some 7,000 Jews live in New Zealand, mainly in Auckland on the North Island.