Quake-hit congregation rents house for New Year

By Dan Goldberg, September 27, 2011
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The small Jewish community in earthquake-ravaged Christchurch will celebrate Rosh Hashanah in a rental property because part of the city's only synagogue needs to be demolished and rebuilt.

Canterbury Hebrew Congregation acting president Bettina Wallace said in a recent report to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which donated $US20,000 to the community's earthquake appeal, that the congregation would now be "lucky if repair works can start in 12 months' time".

The devastating February 22 tremor claimed more than 180 lives, including three Israelis. The synagogue building suffered extensive damage, and the Chabad house, a rented property in the city, suffered severe damage.

Ms Wallace said the congregation rented a house two weeks ago thanks largely to the donation from the JDC.

The tower that holds the ark had to be removed

"The house is small, but has a huge living room which we have converted into a sanctuary," she wrote.

The lay-led community is organising for two young Chabad rabbis from Melbourne to lead the services, Ms Wallace added.

The tower that holds the ark had to be removed and Ms Wallace said engineers insisted that the entire front part of the synagogue will need to be demolished and rebuilt.

Some 1,500 Jews live in Christchurch. Most of New Zealand's 7,000-plus Jews live in Auckland and
Wellington.

    Last updated: 12:24pm, September 27 2011