Policeman Rescues Torah Scrolls from Christchurch Rubble

Scrolls rescued from under rubble of Chabad house.

Published: March 4th 2011
in News » World

Christchurch New Zealand

A police officer in Christchurch, New Zealand, has gone above and beyond the “call of duty” by risking personal injury when salvaging two Torah scrolls buried under the rubble of the city’s Chabad house, caused by a February 22 earthquake.


“When he heard of the importance of the Torah to Jews around the world, he put on his helmet and gloves and went in himself,” said Rabbi Shmuel Friedman on Chabad’s website, Chabad.org.


Rabbi Friedman, who escaped from the Chabad House with an Israeli backpacker during the earthquake, was trying to rescue pieces of the building in Christchurch on March 2, when he was stopped by police detective Chris Bell.


“For me, it was extremely emotional,” said Friedman, who 24 hours earlier had said Kaddish for two Israelis before their bodies were repatriated. “It was such a beautiful scene when I saw the detective coming out from the Chabad house. It was like a fireman coming out of a burning building clutching a baby.”


“We are really overjoyed by this remarkable rescue by this heroic police officer,” said Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, the head of New Zealand’s Chabad. “He went into what is literally an extremely dangerous situation and pulled out the Torahs; it’s completely unbelievable.”

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