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Jewish Community Helps Hawaii Fire Victims

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Chabad centers across Hawaii are offering vital services—from kosher meals and Shabbat services to emotional support.


As of Thursday, wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui have claimed 36 lives and left thousands homeless, as emergency workers searched through the night on Wednesday for survivors in the charred ruins of burned-out buildings. Most of the structures in the town of Lahaina, with an estimated population of 12,000, according to the 2020 Census, have been decimated by flames.

U.S. President Joe Biden called the situation a major disaster on Thursday. That action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Maui County.

With the fires still burning due to windy and dry conditions, officials in Hawaii warned that the death toll could rise over the next few days. Search-and-rescue teams have been fanning out in the devastated areas in the hopes of finding survivors, said Adam Weintraub, communication director for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries joined relief workers around the state in helping Maui residents and thousands of tourists who had to evacuate the island and cope with the disaster.

Rabbi Mendel Krasnjasnky of Chabad of Maui reported multiple homes belonging to Jewish residents succumbing to the blaze. Echoing their unwavering support during past calamities—as in previous natural disasters, like Hurricane Lane in 2018—Chabad centers across Hawaii are offering vital services—from kosher meals and Shabbat services to emotional support.

“With lives lost and properties decimated, we are grieving with each other during this inconsolable time,” says Maui’s mayor, Richard Bissen.

Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org/News.

Image: The island of Maui experienced a major wildfire disaster fueled by windy and dry conditions with much the town of Lahaina destroyed, Aug. 8, 2023. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Hawai’i Pacific District 14 via Wikimedia Commons.

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