Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin of Chabad's Jewish Hurricane Relief was just on Fox News. I only caught the last 2/3 of the interview, but two things seemed clear:
- Rabbi Rivkin did not specify that Chabad's relief and rescue was directed only to Jews.
- He did not directly claim it was nonsectarian and meant for non-Jews as well.
A quick check of Chabad's Hurricane website finds the following modified page:
We appeal to you to recognize the scope of this disaster and open your heart — and extend a very giving and benevolent hand — to help alleviate the suffering of many thousands of our brothers and sisters. …
Gulf Coast in Crisis
The devastation wrought by the force and fury of Hurricane Katrina, and its brutal aftermath, is too horrific for words. Even the shocking images being shown on TV do not adequately convey the true scope of suffering in the wake of this tragedy; the worst natural disaster in United States history.
The loss of life has only begun to be tallied; the awful toll rising by the hour. Pockets of survivors – barely hanging on for dear life – are still being plucked from jutting rooftops and from the thick of increasingly putrid and toxic flood waters.
Most of those who were lucky enough to evacuate or be rescued have done so with little more than barest of provisions, if not nothing more than the shirts on their backs. The numbers of people who are now displaced — without food, clothing, basic necessities and a place to rest their shock-weary bodies — are staggering. They are homeless, jobless and, a great many of them, penniless and directionless. Within a span of 48 hours, they have seen their lives turned completely upside down — left in shambles. For most of these people, everything they have worked for has been engulfed, submerged, decimated, burned or even looted and pillaged.
Among the victims are singles and families; healthy and infirmed; young and old from literally all walks of life. This calamity has recognized no distinctions. It has cast hundreds of thousands into crisis and despair, and, in many cases, to total dependency upon the goodwill of others.
Jewish Community in Dire Need
Among those victimized and displaced are some 12,000 Jews from the city of New Orleans, as well as Jewish inhabitants from cities and parishes in neighboring Mississippi and Alabama.
This is a time wherein the government alone simply cannot be relied upon to address the pain and very specific needs of our fellow. This is where people of compassion and conscience must step forward and be there for those who are in desperate need of help.
As outlined on this website, Chabad of New Orleans – in conjunction with Chabad centers across the United States – is coordinating massive relief efforts on numerous fronts. We are helping victims with just about whatever their needs may be, but above all, we are doing so in a manner that preserves dignity, instills hope and engenders a spirit of perseverance.
The outpouring of support we have received thus-far has been most encouraging, but not nearly enough to address a crisis of this magnitude. Our efforts urgently require immediate, major and broad-based support from throughout the global Jewish community.
None of us should ever have to encounter such heartbreak and despair in our lives; however, it is imperative to know that when something like this does strike, we are indeed there for each other — caring, feeling and helping in a very real way.
In other words, the relief and rescue Chabad provides is sectarian and it always was intended to be so. But, even so, as pointed out first here, Chabad raised money for almost two weeks claiming to be doing so for nonsectarian relief. This was a coordinated effort to deceive the public, an effort directly run out of Chabad's world headquarters in Brooklyn under the direction of its head of operations Rabbi Yehudah Krinsky. And that speaks volumes about Chabad's honesty and its trustworthiness.