BOSTON – Signing up for the shaliah (emissary) gig in Beantown, Chabad Rabbi
Mayer Zarchi probably never thought counseling victims of a terror attack would
be part of his job requirements.
But with his headquarters located only a
few blocks from the scene of the Boston Marathon bombing site this past Patriots
Day, his office near Mass General Hospital where he is a chaplain become a spot
frantic runners and spectators could call loved ones after the cellphone lines
went down due to high volume.
“People needed help, and we were there to
provide it,” Zarchi told The Jerusalem Post.
“It was insane,” said
Zarchi, who added that many of the victims appeared “dazed” and “not even
crying,” but clearly affected.
At the hospital Zarchi saw victims with
amputated limbs along with a lady who was missing her right hand from the
Another Chabad rabbi, Yosef Zaklos, happened to be doing tefillin
right “smack in the middle” of the first explosion on Boyalston Street, right
across from the Lenox Hotel.
Zaklos, of Chabad of Downtown Boston, said
he heard a boom and saw “a fireball go up.”
It was “pandemonium,” said
Zaklos. He said people turned east to avoid the first explosion right before the
second bomb went off.
Zaklos said that he was in a group that jumped into
a nearby bar for refuge.
Zacklos told the Post that he found the “energy
for the moment” to stay on scene and help those who were shell-shocked and
disoriented from the blasts.
The rabbi said many of the runners who had
been stopped were becoming cold.
“It was surreal, definitely,” said
Zaklos, who also handed out danishes to first responders and federal
Like Zarchi, Zaklos is also a chaplain at Mass General
Hospital, which Zarchi said has become like a “fortress” after Monday’s
Casualties from the blasts were spread out among several Boston
hospitals in order not to swamp one hospital.
Another rabbi, Seth
Phillips, leader of Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, Pennsylvania, had
just finished running the marathon when he heard the blast.
the Post that even though he heard the boom and saw the blast, many around him
thought that a transformer had blown and there had been some sort of
He said it sounded like a saluting gun and only found out later
that the explosion had been caused by a bomb.
“As a runner I hope it
doesn’t change the sport and prevent crowds from being allowed along the running
route,” said Phillips, a 20-year veteran of the US Navy.
“The crowds are
the prime motivator [to keep on going]. I couldn’t imagine it without the
crowds,” he added.
“It was a beautiful day,” said Zarchi,
reflecting. “Everybody was enjoying themselves. The Boston Marathon is
one of the great national sporting events. But in a nanosecond, everything