Thursday, September 4, 2008

Organizations step up to help Haiti Mitzvah Project

For several years, Miami Beach's Temple Beth Sholom's Haiti Mitzvah Project has helped to alleviate some of the suffering of the Haitian people in light of political and civic unrest in the country.

Whether collecting food and clothing at a Purim carnival, making announcements in its temple bulletins and setting up tables and donating medical supplies at a Mitzvah Day, Dr. Zev Ben Beitchman, a clinical psychologist and project chair, feels the synagogue has been instrumental in helping the people of Haiti. Other organizations have also stepped up to help the mitzvah project.

"It's a great feeling to know that people are willing to help others in need and it's a great feeling because Haiti is a kind of place where you can really change and make people's lives better," Beitchman said.

St. Patrick's Church in Miami Beach, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Broward Community College and a few private doctors have made donations. Beitchman, who's visited Haiti several times, would like to also get the United Nations involved, get State Gov. Charlie Crist to visit Haiti and try to get a university to help at least one, if not all the hospitals in the country because he feels that they need much needed medical equipment. Tamara Kaz, program director for the synagogue, says that Beitchman is a very concerned and dedicated human being.

"Haiti actually touched his heart," she said. "He saw the lack of medicine, the lack of money, and how poor people were there and we're trying to actually send medicine and things for their needs, bandages for their kids and all things."

The synagogue's Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz, who helped Beitchman get this project started said, "This project that he has been sustaining, along with many other people in our community in Miami and the U.S., was very much rooted in Jewish tradition in doing what we can and not just standing by when someone is suffering."

Beitchman said that from what his rabbi taught him for many years, this project of repairing the world and repairing the broken vessels in the Earth is a responsibility for him as a Jew.

"There are many broken vessels, and one of those is Haiti," he said. "As Jews, we are very involved in repairing the world and this is one area where I've take upon myself to try to repair."

For more information on the project or to contribute, contact Beitchman at 786-303-4422 or at

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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