emergency appeal
Ezagui Case


Mrs. Ezagui's Plea for Help, May, 2009

To: My Jewish Brethren and Lovers of Justice,

My name is Reina Ezagui.

I used to live in Crown Heights with my wonderful husband Eliyahu and our four children--but we moved to Israel two years ago.

Make no mistake: I stand by my husband 100%--which is exactly why you need to hear what I have to say. Forget the rumors. I want to tell you what Eliyahu's ongoing legal battles are doing to our family.

Many of you know my husband's story: The story of how a good man did all he can to help build up Crown Heights when others thought its community was a lost cause.

But for the past ten months, my husband has been under house arrest in Crown Heights. And to make matters worse, Eliyahu was indicted in federal court over Pesach.

Eliyahu and I share four beautiful children.

Our oldest son, an IDF soldier, lost his dominant arm during the Gaza war three months ago. His obvious daily struggle pales in comparison to his flashbacks and terrible phantom pain in his missing limb. He's had two operations since--and is due for a third.

Because I also must care for our small children too, I have been unable to give my son the emotional support he requires. He needs his father. He has been left alone with more than a young soldier can bear, no matter how valiant he may be.

But it gets worse.

Our baby walks around searching for her Abba all day, begging Hashem to bring him home.
Our six-year-old talks about Abba incessantly. She suffers from terrible panic attacks at night. She often wakes up screaming that she will not let anyone hurt her Abba.
Our 17-year-old daughter is angry, lost, and struggling through this difficult age without her father's guidance.

We have no family in Israel--leaving a struggling wife alone under horrific circumstances.

Eliyahu dedicated the last 15 years of his life building up Crown Heights after receiving a remarkable brachah from the Rebbe!

Remember that 15 years ago was the aftermath of the 1991 riots. Although those times are forgotten now, Yidden were terrified of the future then. Many were looking to leave.

But Eliyahu knew this would send the wrong message: Incite a riot in a Jewish community, and the Jews will run.

Tragically, that is exactly what happened in our bloody history, time and again. Eliyahu was determined to not let it happen again.

Armed with the Rebbe's brachah for success, and his own strong will, Eliyahu asked his mashpia of ten years, the late Rabbi Eli Chaim Roitblat, how to proceed.

Eliyahu was instructed to simply start shoveling: To take physical action to draw down the spiritual blessing.

From that point on, Eliyahu did exactly as he was told--and continued working tirelessly for 17 years. One family at a time, agreements were made and hope was restored. People invested money in projects for the sake of building up the community. If the project was a success, they would be able to close on an apartment at a later date. If not, they were to get their money back--period.

Eliyahu's first few projects were successful. One building was built at 1227 President St. (12 homes) and another at 762 Empire Blvd. (with 30 homes). Unfortunately, the last building, a project on East New York, was not successful.

Eliyahu fought with all his might for years to try and save this building--but to no avail. The people lived in the apartments for many years and Eliyahu paid the mortgages for ten years, in excess of TEN MILLION DOLLARS.

We lost everything to keep these people in the building we built for them.

We lost our own home. (Which is why we're in Israel.) We lost our credit.

As G-d is my witness, I assert to you right now: My husband is innocent of causing any intentional harm to anyone!

But he can no longer support us or afford proper legal representation to defend himself. Legal fees are astronomical. Eliyahu MUST get a fair hearing to be set free. Time is of the essence. THE MITZVAH OF PIDYON SHEVUYIM is very great.

I am BEGGING YOU, the shluchim worldwide. Please: Hear the plea of a heartbroken Jewish wife and mother--please help me keep my husband out of prison!


Reina Ezagui

Izzy Ezagui's Story

Izzy Ezagui is the eldest son of Eliyahu Ezagui. After moving to Israel several years ago, he made the decision to join the Israeli Army. When he left to the army his father was a wealthy man. His father is well known for his charity and is one of the founders of Chabad of Aventura. To this day, his name is prominently displayed above the doorpost of the Chabad synagogue. During the time Izzy was in the army, his father's business took a major downturn. He is currently in a legal battle, and for those familiar with the Federal Government, they have the ability to make a rich man very poor, very quickly.

About 10 months ago, during a mission in Gaza, Izzy was hit by a rocket that severed his left arm. See link: http://www.shturem.org/index.php?section=news&id=33235

Izzy's case is somewhat of a rarity, and to say the least the IDF is not prepared for it. The majority of victims who sustain injuries in the upper extremities do not survive. Most of the prosthetic technology the Israeli's have developed deal with the legs and feet. Additionally, due to the location of Izzy's injury (above the elbow, i.e. he is missing 2 joints) the technology needed to give any function to his arm, is far beyond what the Israeli's have developed.

Because the U.S. has far more injuries of this nature to deal with, their experience and technology far surpasses that of the Israeli's. While it is clear to all that Izzy will benefit greatly from medical treatment in the U.S., Israel does not currently provide more than a token payment for this (we expect less than 1% of the cost).

Many have suggested using political connections to persuade the IDF to provide Izzy with the treatment, surgery and mechanical arm in the U.S. While this is a cause Izzy intends to take up, it seems grossly unfair to have him pay for the delay in fighting bureaucracy. He currently suffers from very severe phantom pain and part of the process of fitting the prosthetic should relieve him of that pain.

Izzy is in need of help. Not only for his arm but also for his father and for his family. Please help Izzy mend his broken life and that of his family's. While anyone in need is deserving of help, how much more one who has put himself on the line for us (and sustained irreversible loss). Please help him without delay - he needs our help today.

Izzy is asking for help for several distinct purposes. As the popular saying reads 'when it rains, it pours'. The total cost for the 2 surgeries, the prosthetic, the rehabilitation for the arm, the fathers legal fees, and the family's day to day expenses is upward of $500,000, of which roughly 30% has been collected.


Family Support

Donate to the

Crown Heights JCC

General Chessed Fund


Legal Expenses

Donate to the

Crown Heights JCC

General Pidyon Shevuim Fund


Donations can be mailed to: CHJCC General Pidyun Shvuyim Fund

392 Kignston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225 US

Or call Musia at The JCC 718-771-9000 ext 0