As we've been reading in the news and watching on television, Haiti has been devastated by an earthquake and the world is scrambling to help them recover in the aftermath of so much devastation. I want to talk about how Jews are taught through the practice of our religion and sacred texts to be God's hands on this earth to heal humanity and Earth, but first here are a few vital details about Haiti:
Christopher Columbus lands and claims the island of Hispaniola for Spain. The Spanish build the New World's first settlement at La Navidad on Haiti's north coast.
Spanish control over the colony ends with the Treaty of Ryswick, which divided the island into French-controlled St. Domingue and Spanish Santo Domingo.
For over 100 years the colony of St. Domingue (known as the Pearl of the Antilles) was France's most important overseas territory, which supplied it with sugar, rum, coffee and cotton. At the height of slavery, near the end of the 18th century, some 500,000 people mainly of western African origin, were enslaved by the French.
A slave rebellion is launched by the Jamaican-born Boukman leading to a protracted 13-year war of liberation against St. Domingue's colonists and later, Napoleon's army which was also assisted by Spanish and British forces. The slave armies were commanded by General Toussaint Louverture who was eventually betrayed by his officers Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe who opposed his policies, which included reconciliation with the French. He was subsequently exiled to France where he died. Source: http://www.traveling haiti.com/history.asp
It seems like slavery and a flight or fight from bondage is a human narrative and certainly something Haitians and Jewish people hold in common. Jews being exiled from their Holy Land and Haitians having a slave rebellion in the late 1790s. I've wondered for a long time why the Jewish people have long endured suffering and now, with this crisis in Haiti, I wonder why humans must suffer period. Natural catastrophes are often explained by evangelicals to be a sign of the "end of the world" while environmentalists remind us of global warming and how it's impacting everything on the planet. Pat Robertson's stunningly stupid response to the crisis in Haiti is that the people of Haiti had a pact with the devil, which lead to this earthquake.
So basically God is punishing the Haitian people because they are godless, even worse than that, they are in league with the devil. Don't believe me? Check out Robertson's ridiculous statements online, via youtube video:
Of course I don't believe Haitians have a pact with the devil. I read accounts of Haitians praying in the streets. There are "believers" among all groups of people. I get rather weary with generalizations or classifications of entire races or groups of people. It just does't leave room for the uniqueness of individuality.
I've shared before that Judaism commands Jews to go out and engage in Tikkum Adam, which is a partnership with God to heal humanity. Wherever there is suffering, Jewish people are called to respond by any means necessary; petitioning governments to change policy, serving as doctors, nurses, teachers, relief workers or making donations to organizations that help suffering people, like the Haitian people. To that end, I'm asking that you take a few moments to pray and/or donate to the relief effort down in Haiti. Here is an organization I recommend for such efforts:
American Jewish World Service: https://www.networkforgood.org/donation/MakeDonation.aspx?ORGID2=222584370&vlrStratCode=zVIcNPkPAP80SV6BRukk1BoHDpWu3aPCUeIvs5qaRF9JmzoJV%2f8pfbUvz3MfFwBG