A Chabad rabbi working in Quito, Ecuador, was kidnapped last Monday and held for four days before being released on Thursday night.
Rabbi Tomer Rotem was abducted by an Israeli man who was well known to the Chabad representative and his wife, having frequented the center which they ran over a period of several years. Approximately nine months ago, Rotem and his wife, Rivka, became increasingly concerned with the man’s unstable behavior and decided to cease contact with him.
“It is very painful for us,” Rotem told The Jerusalem Post.
“We helped this man so much, we provided him with food and friends and a home, because ahavat hinam [love of one’s fellow man] is so critical for the Jewish people today.”
The man in question operated with a number of local criminals and demanded a ransom for Rotem in a note received by Rivka. She informed the police as well as the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Chabad officials.
Rotem was released on Thursday night without explanation and the kidnappers were found and arrested by the police on Friday.
Details of the incident were only made public on Saturday night.
“We are so thankful to Hakadosh Baruch Hu [God] for this miracle and for this deliverance,” Rotem said.
“Somehow, God intervened and changed the heart of these criminals, there’s no other way to explain it.”
“We are thanking God for every single breath, and thank everyone who
prayed for us because it was in the merit of this prayer that Hashem
brought about this miracle.”
Rotem was unwilling to go into the details of his ordeal, saying only that he had been harshly treated and physically hurt.
He said that he and his wife intend to stay in Ecuador and continue
their service there but will be requesting additional donations to
provide 24-hour security for the Chabad house where they work.
“We are happy to stay here and continue to provide for the spiritual and
physical needs of Jews coming to the country,” Rotem said. “This
incident has actually united the community, and people are showing how
much they care. They are flocking to the center, people are coming to
put on tefillin and we are so thankful for all the support.”