President Bush Salutes Chabad's Rescue Efforts
At a convention of the Republican Jewish Coalition celebrating its 20th anniversary, American President George Bush delivered a speech, which was mostly dedicated to the hurricane tragedy and the rescue efforts exerted at the storm zone. To the surprise of the audience, a special dedication in his speech was directed to the Chabad director of New Orleans saying, "Rabbi (Zelig) Rivkin, brought teams of students to New Orleans, and southern Mississippi, and other communities hit by the storm. He called in folks to help. He didn't say, head away from the storm; he said, let's take it right to the middle of the storm area to help people. They helped rescue stranded people; they distributed bottled water and self-heating kosher meals; they cleaned up and helped salvage homes; they provided spiritual support for those who lost loved ones. And one of those rescued from New Orleans put it this way: In the days after Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives." The crowd responded to Bush with a thunderous applause.
The festive event in Washington was opened by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, director of American Friends of Lubavitch. He was honored to recite and invocation in memory of the largest nature disaster America has known. Following the event, President Bush approached attending leaders and supporters. When he saw Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, chairman of the Agudas Chasidei Chabad umbrella organization, the president hurried over to him, hugged and kissed him on the cheek.
Rabbi Rivkin told COL that he is in the process of a revitalizing attempt to reestablish the battered community. "We must not pat ourselves on the back even after the praise of the president, this is not enough. Our activities are divided into two realms: Firstly, our work within the city - to bring survivors to shelter and to look after their personal necessities. Secondly, to lend a helping hand to those who have left the city in desolate conditions. The rescue activities were mostly done by skilled personnel, while our squads assisted them, and the funding is provided by caring individuals".
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