Last week’s JTA story “Jewish community mulling action on Chile quake” (March 4) prematurely indicated that no serious earthquake damage had occurred to Jewish institutional life in Chile. If only that were true!
From the epicenter of the quake, members of the Rabbinical Assembly received the following communication from Rabbi Angel Kreiman in Concepcion. Please note that in the early 1990s, when the AMIA Jewish community nerve center in Buenos Aires was bombed by Iranian-backed terrorists, Rabbi Kreiman’s wife tragically was among the dozens who died.
Rabbi Kreiman wrote:
“During the earthquake, I was in Temuco, 125 miles south of Concepcion, for a bar mitzva celebration in the oldest synagogue of Chile, built in 1903. I was sleeping when, at 3:35 a.m., the earthquake and its replications happened. I spent all night in the street, but in the morning I convinced the people of Temuco to meet in the half-destructed synagogue and celebrate the bar mitzva.
“The disastrous state of Concepcion obligated me to return immediately. I was in shock in Concepcion, because all the memories of AMIA in 1994 came to my mind, but here the whole city was affected. I went in the Concepcion synagogue and it was like a “hurban habayit” (destruction of the ancient Temple): The walls are all cracked and the roof [fallen] down. I couldn’t stay there, so I got the sifrei Torah and left. I am now a refugee in my friends’ house that still has water. I hope to return as soon as possible.”
A financial assistance campaign on behalf of the synagogue and the Jewish community in Concepcion and its environs is being conducted by the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues, serving more than 15,000 Jews in Chile. Visit www.masortiworld.org for more information.
Rabbi Alan Silverstein
Immediate past president
World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues