Pebbles with messages are seen at a memorial site for victims of Friday's shooting, in front of Christchurch Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand March 19, 2019. .
(photo credit: JORGE SILVA / REUTERS)
Two Orthodox rabbis in New Zealand are calling on their congregations to pray for and contribute to the victims of the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand, where 50 people were murdered on Friday.
Rabbi Ariel Tal, head of the Wellington Jewish Community Center, and Rabbi Natti Friedler, head of the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, issued a request to their respective communities, asking them to donate the traditional charity money given on the upcoming Purim holiday to support the families of the victims of the attack in addition to the Jewish poor.
“As part of the Purim mitzva [commandment], which requires every Jew to give gifts to the needy during the course of Purim day – and is usually performed by giving money to charity – money will be collected for the families of the victims as well as for the rehabilitation of the community that has suffered great losses,” the rabbis said.
“The evil that struck Christchurch is the manifestation of Amalek in our times, here in New Zealand. On Shabbat we read Parashat Zachor, reminding all of us that Amalek is still relevant,” they said, referring to the Torah portion in which Jews are commanded to remember the crimes of Amalek.
Tal and Friedler, who are emissary rabbis from Ohr Torah Stone’s Straus-Amiel rabbinical emissary program, both traveled to the Islamic Community Center in Christchurch on Tuesday morning to convey their condolences and message of support, as the imams were conducting burial ceremonies for the victims.
Tal said that the center was packed with many visitors from around the world, including Pakistan, Yemen and Australia, and received the Jewish delegation with great warmth.
“We have come to comfort, to hug, and to share in the community’s grief,” said Tal.
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, president and rosh hayeshiva of the Ohr Torah Stone network of institutions, said the organization and its network of institutions “stands in solidarity with the victims of the massacre in Christchurch” and sent “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the murdered and the wounded.
“As a people that has experienced hatred and evil on the basis of our religion, it is even more important that we stand with the Muslim community and call for an end to hatred and racism.”
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