‘The Mikveh Saved Us’: How Chabad Family Survived ‘Off The Charts’ Irma by the Forward

‘The Mikveh Saved Us’: How Chabad Family Survived ‘Off The Charts’ Irma

When Hurricane Irma finally bore down on St. Martin, a tiny Caribbean island, Rabbi Moishe Chanowitz and his family thought they were ready. The Chabad emissaries have lived on the island for eight years, and have seen many storms. But the record-breaking 185 mile-per-hour winds drove them from their homes into the recently constructed Chabad center.

Chanowitz, his wife and their five children moved farther into the building as the storm worsened, finally entering the windowless room at the center: the mikveh, or ritual bath. Just as they got inside, the building’s door flew off.

“We have hurricane-proof doors and windows. It’s not like we weren’t prepared, but this was off the charts,” Chanowitz told Chabad.org. “The mikveh saved us.”

The storm reached the island at about 4 a.m. Wednesday. By 5 a.m., the plywood that Chanowitz had installed over the windows of his house and the Chabad center were flying off.

“Roofs are torn off. The interiors of people’s homes have been swept away. A friend of ours who lives in a very nice, very secure building down the street from the Chabad House, his whole house was blown out,” Chanowitz said. “He survived because he had a closet he could hide in.”

Chanowitz’s sister has set up a GoFundMe page to help get her brother and his family off the island.

Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter, @aefeldman.


Ari Feldman

Ari Feldman

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. He covers Jewish religious organizations, synagogue life, anti-Semitism and the Orthodox world. If you have any tips, you can email him at feldman@forward.com. Follow him on Twitter @aefeldman.

Mikveh Saves Chabad Family From ‘Off The Charts’ Irma

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

‘The Mikveh Saved Us’: How Chabad Family Survived ‘Off The Charts’ Irma

Thank you!

This article has been sent!