In the picturesque setting of Maui, an island known for its serene beauty, disaster struck with unforeseen force, wiping out businesses and homes, and posing a threat to the lives of many. But amidst the dark smoke, the spirit of the Jewish community and the essence of Israel itself shone brightly.
When the historic wildfires raged through the quaint town of Lahaina, engulfing Ido Sarfati’s thriving businesses that had been nurtured over a decade, the real story was not about the ashes left behind, but about the unyielding spirit of unity and the importance of community. Ido, originally from Israel, was quick to share his experience, expressing immense gratitude for the support from Rabbi Mendy Krasnjansky of Chabad of Maui. Through Rabbi Mendy’s assistance, Sarfati and his friends found safety and solace in Honolulu, where they were welcomed with open arms by the broader Jewish community.
During a touching Shabbat morning, survivors recited the Birkat Hagomel, a traditional blessing of thanksgiving after surviving a life-threatening event. Sarfati shared an emotional moment, explaining, “I had tears in my eyes when I heard the songs of Shabbat. It was a really strong moment.”
Joel Jacobson, who had been vacationing with his wife, Heather, when the fires broke out, also found refuge through Chabad. When all seemed lost and inaccessible, he reached out to Rabbi Krasnjansky, who generously offered them a guest house.
While the immediate aftermath of the fire was filled with tales of escape, unity, and faith, the sense of community only grew stronger. Oahukosher.com’s chef, Yudi Weinbaum, went above and beyond, working tirelessly to provide kosher meals for those stranded and affected by the fire. Such dedication highlights the core values of unity and mutual assistance embedded deep within the Jewish community.
As we read about these stories of unwavering spirit and the Israeli ethic of mutual aid that was evident even miles away from Israel’s shores, it is clear that the heart and soul of the Jewish people remain indomitable. The State of Israel is not just a geographic location but a reflection of unity, strength, and hope. No matter where we are in the world, our values and principles continue to guide and uplift us, especially in challenging times.
Israel stands as a beacon of these very values, reminding us all of the power of community, resilience, and hope. Let’s take inspiration from the tales of Maui and carry forward the spirit of Am Yisrael, united in purpose and heart, always.