The idyllic shores of Maui, Hawaii have been struck by a devastating tragedy, as flames engulfed numerous parts of the island, leaving in their wake a trail of destruction that took with it many homes, memories, and livelihoods.
In the midst of this chaos, a glimmer of hope emerges in the form of Rabbi Mendel and Chani Zirkind, the tireless hearts behind the Maui Kosher Farm, who are single-handedly providing a lifeline of food, shelter, clothing, and emotional support to the hundreds of misplaced Jews who find themselves in the throes of this catastrophe.
The Zirkinds’ extraordinary efforts encompass a wide range of assistance. From ensuring that mouths are fed to providing temporary shelters in the form of cottages, cabins, and tents on their land, they are leaving no stone unturned to create an environment of safety and care. As roads remain closed and escape seems impossible, the Zirkinds are a glimmer of hope for those who have lost everything they held dear.
In the wake of the devastation, an international crisis unfolds as the Israeli consulate reaches out to the Zirkind’s for help locating any of the Israelis whose families have not yet heard from them. Israelis whose passports and legal documents have been destroyed are caught in the maelstrom, and it is Rabbi Mendel and Chani Zirkind who step forward, orchestrating last-minute evacuations and ensuring that those stranded find a way to safety. Not only are they meeting the immediate physical needs, but they are also tending to the spiritual ones by providing Tefillin to the hundreds of Jewish tourists who cannot get to their hotels and offering a haven for them for Shabbos in the case they cannot leave the island before then.
“It’s like the apocalypse,” says Heather Samuels, a long term Jewish resident of Maui. “So many of our friends homes have burnt down. Their businesses, ruined,” adds Laura Kaplan. “Lahaina is burned to the ground, the Maui Kosher Farm has become a soup kitchen for the displaced Jews. People are having a hard time finding their loved ones- its absolute chaos. There are currently 4,000 tourists in the airport and surrounding area trying to get off the island. All I can say, is that Hashem is in charge here.”
As the Zirkinds work to piece together a sense of normalcy, challenges arise on all fronts. “Don’t come to Maui right now!” they implore, as the island becomes a magnet for thrill-seekers who may inadvertently place themselves in danger. The Zirkind’s plea is not just a warning, but a testament to their dedication to safeguarding their community.
Amidst the turmoil, financial constraints add to the burden. The Zirkinds are in need of funds to ensure that everyone is fed and cared for. With an unshakable belief that Hashem will provide, they are a shining example of selflessness and compassion, going above and beyond to ensure the well-being of those in need. Their unwavering commitment echoes in their simple yet profound question: “How can we help? We’re here for you.”
Their immediate focus is clear: provide essentials, offer a safe haven, and extend a hand of support. But their long-term commitment is equally strong. The Zirkind’s understand that rebuilding lives shattered by disaster is not a simple endeavor yet they are ready to provide the resources needed for recovery.
Tents, mattresses, blankets, clothing and cots are essential, but so too is the support of a caring community. As they reach out, seeking to understand the needs of those they serve, they are a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
In this unimaginable scenario, where electricity is a luxury and even showers are hard to come by, The Zirkinds are the guiding light. Their unwavering dedication to the displaced Jews on Maui, both tourists and residents, stands as a testament to the power of compassion and resilience. In their actions, they remind us all that in times of darkness, the strength of community and the bonds of humanity shine brightest.
To help partner in their relief efforts, donate here: