On Friday, October 7, Shabbat was approaching — and off the coast of Florida and Georgia, so was Hurricane Matthew, the category 3 storm called a “monster” by Florida’s governor, Rick Scott.
Which is why instead of putting out the prayer books and ironing their best clothes in preparation for Jewish day of rest, congregations and congregants were locking doors, tucking away precious ritual objects and seeking refuge in other cities.
And then there are some who place their faith in a higher power.
Rabbi Chay Amar from the Chabad of Golden Beach-congregation in Miami said that the worst had passed. He attributed the relative calm to a blessing, given years ago, from the leader of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Schneerson.
“In 1992, as hurricane Andrew came, the people asked the Rabbi Schneerson if they should worry, and the rabbi motioned with his hand and showed that there was no reason to worry,” Rabbi Chay Amar told the Forward.
Ever since then, in Amar’s eyes, Florida has been spared from severe hurricanes.
“Rabbi Schneerson gave a blessing to protect Florida. And thank God, the hurricane completely went away, even though everybody was panicking. We are not worried at all.”