Jewish community pledges $1 million in relief aid for Haiti

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NEW CITY – Members of New York’s Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities have announced a massive relief effort to benefit the victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti, where more than 2,200 were killed and entire towns destroyed. 

“Some world tragedies are beyond control of mankind, but we must take control of how we react to those catastrophes,” said Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder (D-Spring Valley). “We are now approaching the Jewish High Holy Days where we pray and beseech God to heal the world and for a better tomorrow. It is also a time where we are being judged by God and there is no better way to enter God’s courtroom than by helping your fellow human being in pain.” 

Wieder, a main organizer of the relief effort, said the Hasidic community is pledging to do all it can to bring relief to Haiti and that already, two shipping containers of essential items and nonperishable food exceeding $1 million has been put together and will be shipped to Haiti.  

Shelf-stable food and hygiene products such as hand sanitizer and wipes, among other items, will be delivered directly to earthquake victims in Haiti by members of the nonprofit, Spring Valley-based Konbit Neg Lakay and Rockland Haiti Relief. 

Among those joining Wieder was State Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein (D-Brooklyn). 

“I stand here with my fellow elected officials and community leaders to stand in solidarity with the people of Haiti,” Eichenstein said. “The Jewish community and the Haitian community have a rich history and…it is time, this time for the Jewish community to be there for our brothers and sisters in the Haitian community. So, we have joined efforts here today and we are calling on all New Yorkers no matter your background, race or religion to step up, contribute, join this effort. We are at our best when we are united.” 

Bishop Paul D. Laplante of the First Haitian Church of God of Middletown is sponsoring the shipment of the containers. He was represented by his son, Dainde M. Laplante. 

“Haiti’s hurting but it’s not broken and because of the unity shown today amongst the brothers and sisters in the community, we know that Haiti will receive the aid that it needs, and we shall survive this,” Laplante said. “We are a strong people. We are not a weak people. We are strong, We’re just down for right now. But God willing, things will change for the better.” 

Masbia Soup Kitchen Network Executive Director Alexander Rapaport is also a main organizer for the relief effort. 

“It’s very simple,” Director Rapaport said. “There are people not far away from here, a couple of thousand miles away, and they need our help and we’re coming together here today to launch a huge help, especially now…Let’s share what we got here and we’re going to send it to our brothers and sisters in Haiti who are suffering from this earthquake.” 

He invited anyone who wants to help to visit the Masbia website to sponsor the purchase of food or “wish list” items or to make a corporate donation. In-person donations can be dropped off, he said.