Jewish Journal

The hard-hat earthquake prep

by Jared Sichel

Posted on Jan. 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Rabbi Elchanan Shoff

Rabbi Elchanan Shoff

It was an odd sight inside the Shoff family’s home in Santa Monica — a television.

Growing up in an Orthodox home, Elchanan Shoff’s parents didn’t own a television. But in the weeks following the Northridge earthquake, they set up a small black-and-white television to follow coverage of the aftermath.

Now the rabbi of LINK East, a synagogue in Faircrest Heights, Shoff remembers waking up as the earthquake shook his Ozone Avenue home. “We were in shock,” Shoff said.

Waiting under a doorway for the worst of it to pass, Shoff’s mother credited the mezuzah in the doorway with keeping them safe. Prepared for the worst, she also put hard hats on her son and husband.

Shoff’s father, preparing ahead, had already had the bookshelves in their house bolted to the wall.

Overall, the Shoff family home escaped serious damage — the same can’t be said for many homes and buildings in north Santa Monica.

“I do remember in the coming weeks driving around, and with my parents, wherever we were driving, I was looking at houses whose chimneys had fallen off,” Shoff said. “I remember feeling very lucky that nothing had happened on my street.”

As a precaution against aftershocks, Shoff also remembers his mother walking around in stores with a hard hat on.

“People would laugh and say, ‘Yeah, better safe than sorry.’ ”

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