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Greatest Joy

photo (7).JPGWhen Mussi came back on Wednesday from being away for a month in on overnight camp in Michigan, we all went to greet her at the airport. There is one thing greater than the happiness of loving brothers and sisters, reuniting with their sibling - for the parent to watch it; the joy that we had seeing the love they have to each-other is beyond description. 

As we are getting closer to the High Holidays, this episode reminded me of the Chassidic saying that G-d's greatest pleasure is to see His children in unity and love among each other; as a parent I know it's really true...

May we use these days of preparation for the New Year to remove any feelings of judgment and anger for one another, and strengthen our love and care to our fellow family members, colleagues and community, and may this bring upon us the blessing of the Almighty for a year of joy and peace.  

The Eternity of Israel will not deceive

A few friends shared with me the news story of the Hungarian Member of the European Parliament from an Anti-Semite party, who had discovered that he was Jewish - a grandchild of a survivor of the holocaust, and connected to the local Hungarian Rabbi to ask for forgiveness and to reclaim his roots. (here in The Wall Street Journal). What they didn’t know is my personal connection to this story.

It was 20 years ago, weeks after I started to study in a Yeshiva High School in the old city of Tzfat. Walking into the study was a Rabbi with a boy. The boy looked very shy and his wide open eyes scanned the scenery. Clearly he had never seen anything like this before. The visiting Rabbi sat by the table with our teacher, and was evidently engaged in an interesting conversation.

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Shortly after, Shlomo was sitting beside me; I was chosen by my teacher to be his study partner. Shlomo, born and raised to an assimilated Jewish family in Budapest, learned only recently that he was Jewish and connected with the local Chabad Rabbi, had a Bris at the age of 12, and after his Bar Mitzvah expressed a strong yearning to devote his youth to explore his heritage. The very young Shlomo went on his own to the city of Tzfat with very minimal knowledge, but with great thirst.
 
Shlomo spoke only Hungarian fluently, which I didn’t...  my job was to translate the text to him in sign language... Shlomo wrote the entire content of the book we studied in Hungarian on the margins of the pages.
 
Fifteen years later Rabbi Shlomo Kovesh was the first ordained Rabbi in Hungary after the holocaust. He became the chief Rabbi of Hungary and now receives great respect from the Hungarian president and government. (In the picture: Rabbi Kovesh addresses the Hungarian Government).
 
As I read the story of the member of parliament turning to Rabbi Kovesh to reconnect to his heritage, I remembered the sign language Chavruta we had, and the word of the prophecy “Netzhach Yisrael lo yeshaker” (=The Eternity of Israel will not deceive) rang in my mind.

Meeting at the lake

Late last night we have returned from a long road trip to the Canadian Rockies. We had a great time seeing for the first time G-d's wonders in this part of the world.photo (15).JPG 

It was while we were sitting for lunch by Lake Louise, that a group of Israelis came over to say hello. We had a great conversation and they told us of the cruise they are taking from Seattle. Turns out, they will be on the same boat as Rabbi Trugman,  who will be performing for us!

So in two weeks, after Shabbat we'll pick up the Trugmans from the cruise and take our new friends for a visit in our community. The Divine Providence of meeting this group by the lake is clear, now we need to find out what G-d intended for us. I have a feeling that this is only the first chapter of the story...

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