Chief Rabbi Rav Dovid Lau spoke with Rabbanim in Turkey on Monday afternoon about the situation of their kehillos in the wake of the devastating earthquakes the country suffered earlier in the day.
HaRav Lau first spoke with the Ashkenazi Rav and Chabad shliach in Istanbul, Rav Menachem Mendel Chitrik, who said that he had just landed in the area close to the epicenter in order to supervise emergency aid. Rav Chitrik said that Baruch Hashem, the last Jew that was trapped under a collapsed building in the area was rescued from the ruins.
Afterward, Rav Lau spoke with Rav Yitzchak Peres, the Rav of the the Yenikoy kehilla and member of the Istanbul Beis Din, who said that there are currently 14 Jews missing – 12 who live near the Syrian border and two who live in southern Turkey. All contact has been lost with them and they making extensive efforts to locate them.
Rav Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of Rabbis of Europe, stated in response to the disaster: “A terrible disaster occurred today on European soil and we all pray and hope that all the missing will be found safe and sound. We are anxiously following the situation of the Jewish community and are sending reinforcements and prayers for their safety.”