When speaking this morning to a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition, President Bush said this about Chabad's hurricane rescue:
"Our nation’s armies of compassion have rallied and have come to the aid of people who are in desperate need of help. Our charities and houses of worship and idealistic people have opened up their homes, wallets and their hearts. It's been an amazing, amazing outpouring of help. And the Jewish community of this country has been on the forefront of the efforts.
At Tulane University, the director of the Chabad, Rabbi 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, distributed bottled water, self-heating kosher meals, cleaned up and helped salvage homes, they provided spiritual support for those who lost loved ones and one of the ones rescued put it this way in the days after Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives."
That is the extent of the quote on Chabad.org. But the president continued as follows:
Rabbi Stanton Zamek of the Temple Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, helped an African American couple displaced by the storm track down their daughter in Maryland. When Rabbi Zamek called the daughter, he told her, "We have your parents." She screamed out, "Thank you, Jesus!" (Laughter.) He didn't have the heart to tell her she was thanking the wrong rabbi. (Laughter and applause.)
Jewish organizations have thus far raised $17 million to help the victims of Katrina. (Applause.) Our citizens are answering the call of the Prophet Isaiah: "If you give what you have to the hungry, and fill the needs of those who suffer, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your darkness will be like the brightest time of day." People are hearing that call all across the country. And there's more work to be done. I urge you to continue to pay attention to the folks down there by contributing to the Red Cross, or the Salvation Army, or the United Jewish Communities, or B'nai B'rith International, or the American Jewish Committee. (Applause.)
Note that this speech was given before a supportive crowd that Chabad is comfortable in. But when the president spoke before a community-wide Jewish audience, he failed to mention Chabad's supposedly majestic role, although he did praise the work of other Orthodox groups.
Also note that Chabad did save lives – Jewish lives. It passed up the opportunity to save non-Jews, opting instead to save its own Torah scrolls, and its relief efforts are geared to Jews. But Chabad raised money to help everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike. This is fraud. It is a federal crime, and it should be prosecuted. It may even be why the president did not recommend donating to Chabad.
Faith-based charities can contribute much to public good during times of national crisis like Katrina. But, if they raise funds to help hurricane victims or the like, their accounting must be transparen and their books must be open. Chabad is not transparent and its books are closed . Enough said.