Donations pour in for former Berkeley rabbi whose home was destroyed in fire

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A New Orleans rabbi who formerly worked at U.C. Berkeley Hillel is recovering from a pre-Passover fire that destroyed his family’s home, with an outpouring of grassroots financial support.

The April 19 fire, which started in the family’s oven during its self-cleaning cycle in preparation for Passover, swept through the home of Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg of the Orthodox Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans.

A GoFundMe page set up on April 20     raised more than $67,000 from 877 donors, exceeding its goal of $50,000.

Greenberg has served as spiritual leader at Beth Israel since June 2014. Before that, he spent a year as rabbi and senior educator at U.C. Berkeley Hillel.

The rabbi and his two young children were in the backyard of the home when the fire started. The family’s possessions, including furniture and clothing, suffered fire, heat, smoke and water damage.

“Rebuilding will undoubtedly be a slow and painful process,” synagogue president Bradley Bain said. “While the extent of the damage has yet to be fully assessed, we do know they will be temporarily uprooted and forever miss the heirlooms, sentimental objects and mementos consumed.” — jta