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Is Haiti a Jewish Cause?

Is Haiti a Jewish Cause?



I would really like to send a check to help the people suffering after the earthquake in Haiti. But some of my friends say how could I do that? They say, look there are children going to sleep hungry in Israel. There are families from Gush Katif still waiting for proper housing. The rest of the world isn't rushing to help them. All they have is us. Shouldn't we be helping our own before we help others?


It depends. If the entire mandate of the Jewish People is to preserve itself, then it makes no sense to squander valuable resources on saving other people's lives.

But let's ask a question: When G‑d promised Abraham, "In your children will be blessed all the nations of the world," is this what He had in mind? Was this what Abraham envisioned, that in 3700 years time he would have a museum to preserve his relics?

Or was it Abraham’s dream—and Moses’ vision, and G‑d’s destiny for us—that we would be a force of goodness and kindness in the world, proclaiming to the world that all of humanity is a single family, descended from one human being, the handiwork of one G‑d, all charged with building a world of harmony and peace?

We are not a museum. We are a living, dynamic legacy with a mission of leadership, couriers of light. Today in Haiti, there is no rescue and medical team comparable to the Israeli contingent, the only ones with a complete hospital on the ground with advanced equipment caring for 500 patients at a time. There is no country in the world that has provided as much aid per capita (anywhere close) as Israel. Outside of Israel as well, you will find Jews at the forefront of every organization that is out there to care.

That is our mandate and that has always been our destiny. And we have done a job of which we can be proud.

Halachically speaking, see Yoreh Deah 151:7, where we are told to provide for the needy, even in the case that they are idolaters, even when doing so diminishes funds to our own needy,1 because such are "the ways of peace." As Maimonides wrote, "The Torah was given for one reason only. To make peace in the world." 2

Give to the worthy causes in your own community. Give to our grand extended family in Israel. Yes, they must be our priority. You're right—if we don't help them, no one else will. That's all part of being Jewish. And so is giving a hand to the little boy in Haiti who was just pulled out from under the rubble, just because he's a fellow human being. Because that's the message our Torah has for the world: That we are really all one family.

Perisha, Tur Choshen Mishpat, 249:2
Hilchot Chanukah 4:14
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Marny Vista, CA/USA August 18, 2010

Haiti - a Jewish cause As of today, few countries have honored their financial pledges to the country of Haiti.

The United States is one of the countries that has not. NOT!!!

Israel's commitment to Humanity is amazing ... and AWESOME -- in the true definition of the WORD. Reply

Anonymous capesterre, guadeloupe June 4, 2010

Is Haiti a Jewish Cause? YES IT IS. One of the minority groups in Haiti is Tigritian or Tigrigna from the same semitic branch of the Tigritian Jews in Israel. Tigritians in Israel are JEWS jews. The ancestors of Tigritians in Haiti were enslaved by Christians and Moslems and they were uprooted with the triangular slave trade and finally christianized. If we help other Afrohatians is in the merit of the ancestors of Tigritians. They are Abrahams relic to preserve in a museum, even when the museum is an island. Go to Israel and you will recognize the faces. Reply

Phillip Zezulak Bloomingdale, IL June 4, 2010

Abraham's Dream Well spoken Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, may the Lord bless you and make you a vehicle of wisdom and peace. Reply

Anonymous Blue Ash, OH February 9, 2010

RE: Anonymous, los angeles, ca -Noahide Laws Wikipedia has a concise list "Seven Laws of Noah"

Of course, has several articles easily found by searching this site. They offer explanation behind the list you can find on wikipedia. Reply

Anonymous Orlando, Florida February 7, 2010

Noachide Laws

This means renouncing your faith/idol worship in the false deity JC. Reply

Sabine santiago February 7, 2010

saving lives saving lives is the most important, it can be with compassion, words, money, but above all with love. Reply

Anonymous Los Angeles, California February 7, 2010

Hait? No Earthquake Part II of my answer.
I think that it is my aversion to human sacrifice, and homicide, and suicide that
moves me to have this rather "Crusading Do Gooder" attitude. My family criticizes me about it, saying that those resources would be better spen ton myself for my own needs. I live below the poverty line. I always have but I have never felt so poor that I could not at times share something even if it was foolish to do so, or seemed crazy, or even if the person held ill will toward me. Faith is quite different from a legal obligation to help. I think that I am an adherent of Eccuminical Ecclesiastical Faith.
Spontaneous faith, relentless faith, uncompromising faith. I live by faith. My faith is not yet perfect but I am working on it daily. All my life I have been in the church, the temple the place of worship, how can I avoid being what my spiritual fathers raised me to be? My fathers see their own reflection when they see me. A woman of faith. Haiti is Us. Reply

Anonymous Los Angeles, California February 7, 2010

Haiti? No Earthquake Dear Community
This problem is in a sense, like having a baby laid on your door step. What do you do? No one sees you. No one is looking at you. There is no one to condem you if you do not pick up this child. There is no one to condemn you if you leave it there exposed to the elements to starve to death. Morally and Ethically what is our motovation for taking asserting the "Good Samaritan" model. Is the "Good Samaritan a model Jew" ? Are we heathen? My motivation would be that I am not a heathen. Heathen leave children exposed to the elements to die and to starve as a way of solving their problems. I would take the baby in my arms, and go to the proper authorities and get help for it, because it is helpless and cannot save itself. Even if no one saw me, even if no one was looking, even if every one in the community laughed at me and called me a fool and an idiot. I would notify the proper authorities, That is the way that I was raised. We even took in stray cats and dogs. Reply

Anonymous Phillipston, MA February 1, 2010

Hati was one of the countries that supported Israel on Nov 29,1947... You will be surprised to find out how many Jews migrated to Haiti from Lebanon... My mother is proud to say where her roots are, and I'm proud to say the same. NOT VOODOO Reply

Sabine santiago January 30, 2010

Haiti Didn't Jewish people participate in the sugar commerce (as traders ans slaves)?
Did not Jewish people participate in liberating Haiti from slavery (inspired bythe French revolution)? Didn't they fight and get killed together aginst Napoleon's army? Did not they SUCCEED in liberating Haiti?
din't Napolean decide to punish other French colonies by reestablishing slavery?
Didn't Napoleon decide to punish Haiti by imposing the refund of a "debt"'?

It is very easy to reduce Haiti to Vodoo only... Reply

Sam Castro Valley, CA January 28, 2010

Donations I donated to Chabad and donated to Haiti and will donate to Oakland Chabad.
I don't remember my parents ever refusing aid to anyone in need. I believe that is why G-d has blessed my family a thousand times over. Reply


HAITI FOR VOODOO PEOPLE???? $$$$$$$$ Reply

Anonymous los angeles, ca January 27, 2010

RE:Haiti Spin in Blue Ash Hi,
Can you tell me what Noachide Laws are?
thanks Reply

Anonymous Orlando, Fl January 27, 2010

RE:RE: Haiti Spin in Blue Ash In all due respect you may wish to reread my post and see that my focus is not on the "why" of these events happening but in the "examination and consideration" of all possibilities including Divine punishment and the Jewish standing before G-d through our intervention.

And through discourse in these comments a compromise was reached through the education in Jewish precedence of providing both for Haitians and Jews alike. That there should be unity of opposing statements which was not the essence in the tone of Rabbi Freeman's paper here in my opinion. But is the very Idea of Rabbi Nachman to bring unity between the religious.

In addition, I will say that teaching, not dictating the Noachide Laws to the Haitians along with providing for their physical needs IS being a light unto the nations. Simply giving them sustenance will not teach them to be Noachides. I also wrote a paper in college about the Yoruba, Santeria, and it does violate the Noachide Laws and is idolatry. Reply

Deborah Hope Schultz Carol Stream, IL January 27, 2010

Jewish Aid to Haiti A wonderful article. As a woman who is half Italian & half Russian Jew, I appreciate the need for love & community with all creeds. I am very proud of my Jewish heritage though I am Christian. If Jews adopt an elitist attitude towards the rest of the world, they will be looked down upon and rejected.
Hebrew Bible or Christian New Testament, the command is to love one another and treat others as you would treat yourself. We are all G-d's children.
Israel has a proud presense in Haiti & throughout the world that shows her love for mankind and knowledge and skill in medical care. All Jews should be proud to set such an example in the world.
My son is presently studying in Israel. I pray that his experience will be a blessing upon himself and with the world he interacts. My middle name, given to me by my Jewish father, says it well. Peace & Hope. Shalom Reply

Anonymous Blue Ash January 27, 2010

re: Haiti-Spin in Orlando Earthquakes, all natural events, are a necessary part of G-d’s creation. Our egos make us lead us to take them personally. The question is not why did it happen? But, what is the best way for human beings to respond to the fact that an earthquake happened.

Crisis is not the time to take advantage of other’s weakness to make our aid contingent on them changing into who we think they should be. That’s the worst kind of proselytizing.

Rather, support them in regaining their dignity and putting their lives back together. If we fix their country the way we think they should be, continue the bad aid practices which have left Haiti so vulnerable to this earthquake.

Stories which would qualify as a breach of Noahide laws are aberrations, not part of orthodox Santeria (not voodoo). A stable nation and educational system will help remove unorthodox practices, promoting orthodox Santeria. We can not change others. They have to change themselves. Our job is to support them then they nee Reply

David Drews January 25, 2010

Haiti Rabbi Freeman's response is beautiful and inspiring Reply

louise ann zwick howell , nj January 25, 2010

is haiti a jewish cause? thank you for helping me understand that i, as a jew, do not live in a bubble. i am well aware that most of the world would hesitate to come to the aid of my people, however, i feel it is my duty to reach out to the needy of my community, i.e. the world, when i am able to do so. Reply

Viviane Lawton, OK January 25, 2010

Help to Haiti Rabbi, your response in reference to Haiti compels me even more to help the needs of Israel.
a Christian who believes in observing Torah. Reply

happyminyan beverly Hills, california January 24, 2010

I remember where, but I remember reading that principles of giving tzedaka relate to "distance" of recipients, both geographical and ethnic. Please correct me if I am wrong, though I know I'm not wrong about prioritzation. The priority to is offer help in immediate vicinity followed by recipients that are ever further. So, if my resources are finite and I have to choose, I first have to give to Jews locally, then globally, then to Haiti. Reply

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