A Mexico City rabbi has been confirmed as one of the casualties of last week’s devastating earthquake in the region.
Rabbi Haim Ashkenazi, of the city's Kehillat Magen David synagogue, had been inside one of the many buildings which collapsed as the 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the Mexican capital. His body was recovered on Saturday, with the death toll of the quake now standing at more than 300.
Mati Goldstein, the international rescue chief officer for the ZAKA Jewish emergency response organisation, confirmed: “Immediately after Shabbat we received an update from our team in Mexico that they had recovered the body of the missing Jewish man...The ZAKA team will remain until we receive an update that there are no more missing people.”
Emergency teams from a number of Jewish organisations, including IsraAID and iAID, have worked throughout the past six days to recover bodies from the wreckage of buildings – but also to rescue trapped survivors.
The Israeli army’s Home Front Command also sent a team of more than 70 aid workers to help with search and rescue efforts.
In the UK, World Jewish Relief has launched an emergency appeal in the wake of the earthquake, as reported by the JC prior to Rosh Hashanah.
Donations will help the charity provide shelter, temporary accommodation and hygiene kits to victims.
Paul Anticoni, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “On the High Holy Days we recite the Unetaneh Tokef prayer which speaks – terrifyingly – about who will die by earthquake.
“Jewish tradition teaches us that while we can’t stop natural disasters, we can choose how we respond to them. Please help us support the people of Mexico.”