By Eric Berger – Chabad.org
A group of donors have agreed to match contributions to Chabad Lubavitch of Puerto Rico totaling $125,000 as part of a 30-hour campaign to help the Jewish center in its relief efforts following Hurricane Maria.
Longtime Jewish philanthropists George and Pamela Rohr have offered $100,000—and an anonymous donor has offered $25,000—to jump-start a campaign that begins Monday at 3 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
The Chabad center, co-directed by Rabbi Mendel and Rachel Zarchi, is doing all it can to assist in recovery efforts on the island, where the majority of residents still do not have power—and many lack potable water—following the devastating Sept. 20 storm.
“We recognize that we can’t help everyone, but we all need to do our part, our share. Our model is to help one person, one family, at a time, and if we all make that concerted effort, the difference will be great,” Rabbi Zarchi tells Chabad.org.
Most of the buildings on the island have suffered some physical damage, and water has seeped or flooded into homes, businesses and properties, reports Zarchi. Looting has also resulted, particularly of cars and other vehicles.
The rabbi estimates that more than half of the 2,500 Jewish residents have left Puerto Rico, though he describes their exit as temporary. Other residents have not been able to leave and are often in worse shape, he says. Doctors have warned of the potential for disease outbreaks because of contaminated water being used for drinking, cooking, cleaning and washing.
“It inspires and obligates us to help those who are less fortunate,” says Zarchi, who is one of seven Chabad staff members now offering assistance on the island.
The funds will go towards items such as baby formula, diapers, nonperishable food products, first-aid supplies, clothing and blankets. Despite the fact that recovery will likely happen slowly—analysts have estimated that it could cost as much as $95 billion—Zarchi insists that he and other Chabad representatives are “here to see it through to the end.”
Last month, two planes chartered by Chabad donors delivered essentials to the island.
“Puerto Rico will flourish again,” says the rabbi, “with the Jewish community being a very big part of that renewal.”