Thailand is a key destination for thousands of Israeli backpackers who go there to chill out after completing reserve duty in the Israeli Army.
Following the earthquake and tsunami that have destroyed hundreds of seaside towns in Asia and Africa leaving thousands dead, relatives of Israelis touring Thailand are anxious to hear about their loved ones. Rabbi Nehemya Wilhelm, Chabad representative to Thailand, has turned his Chabad House into a crisis center where Israelis can come and place phone calls home, or try to find their friends as of yet unaccounted for.
According to Rabbi Yosef Kantor, Chabad representative to Thailand, the Israeli Consul in Thailand, Yakov Dvir, contacted Chabad for help in locating hundreds of Israelis who are stranded in the ravaged seaside towns of Thailand.
In Ko Samui, Thailand, Chabad’s Rabbi Gaoni Maatuf says his Chabad House has fielded over 1,000 phone calls from Israel, trying to help families locate their relatives. Rabbi Maatuf notified Israelis in Ko Samui, which has not been affected by the quake, to contact their families back home. Rabbi Maatuf was interviewed yesterday by Galei Tzahal, the IDF radio station, and later in the day, Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom acknowledged that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has sought Chabad’s help in locating Israeli citizens in Thailand.