Wednesday, / July 17, 2024
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On Hurricane-Battered Jamaica, Chabad Brings Faith, Food, and Friendship

As the outer bands of Hurricane Beryl pummeled Jamaica with torrential rain, Rabbi Yaakov Raskin was not in a shelter. His SUV was weaving its way between downed tree limbs and debris as he made his way to a resort where he knew Jewish travelers were stranded, in need of kosher food.

Hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors waited out the storm in boarded-up shelters — the island is well-prepared for hurricanes — and are now emerging to begin to pick up the pieces. With power and cell phone service down throughout most of the island, Raskin has been going door to door making welfare checks and bringing necessary provisions.

“We’ve checked in on every Jewish person we know in Montego Bay, as well as many in the wider community” Raskin said, communicating via a Starlink satellite connection — which has become a lifeline to people of all faiths anxious to know if their family members on the island are okay. 

Now their focus has turned to the southern Jamaican communities, which received the brunt of the storm’s impact, as entire neighborhoods were devastated by high winds and flooding. Raskin will fly to Treasure Beach on a privately-owned small airplane accompanied by community members. They’ll meet with local residents, assess the damage, and begin providing much-needed relief. 

Most appreciated on the island, says Raskin, has been his spiritual support. “Jamaica is a very spiritual place.” Traveling the island, the rabbi shared the message of the Seven Noahide Laws as a way to invoke Divine protection.. Chabad of Jamaica is also inviting all local community members who are without electricity to join Chabad for Shabbat, for a much-needed infusion of light and warmth.


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