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Menorah, Mezuzah and Buffalo shofars

Thursday, 25 February, 2010 - 2:56 pm

Dear Friends,  

On Monday, I got a phone call from Dave from Barriere, BC. "Hi Rabbi, would you be able to tell me how to turn buffalo horns into shofars?"

To understand why Dave would like to make shofars out of buffalo horns before Purim, I must first let you know how I got to know Dave, which is one of the most inspiring tales I have been a part of since we made Victoria our home.

Weeks after we arrived in Victoria, I was contacted by Rabbi Dubrawsky from Vancouver who told me that a visitor from Baltimore had met a Jew on the ferry to Victoria who inquired about a mezuzah, and he has his phone numbers in case I would like to be of help.

None of the numbers he gave me seemed to work. A few days later, I learned that the 250 area code could be long distance, requiring a 1 before the number. I called Dave to find out that he lives in the interior of BC in a town called Barriere, and he was in Victoria for a visit. "Let me then mail you the mezuzah," I said, to which he replied, "Please don't. I would like to meet you in person to get the mezuzah."

"When will you be coming?" I asked. "I don't go very often, it may be next summer, but you'll hear from me as soon as I'm there". 

A few days later Dave was on the phone: "My wife’s uncle died suddenly in Victoria. See you tomorrow."

When Dave came to my house it was clear that he had something to say. He asked me and Chani to sit down to hear his story. 

"I was born in Austria to a Jewish family. At the age of three, I was adopted by a Christian family from BC. They told me that my ancestors were Jewish, but I didn't pay too much attention to it and I went on with my life. When I decided to research my family to find relatives, I was told that the Jewish people in my town have most probably all perished in the Holocaust. When I heard that, I made up my mind to leave the history behind and go forward with my life. 

"I began a career in real estate and became the realtor of Barriere. I established a family and had a peaceful life, until that one spring day. It was right after I sold a house, and went to see my clients and to my surprise, I saw a menorah on their shelf. I had no idea what it was, but I was confident that it was a Jewish item. When I inquired about it, they said they weren't Jewish and the conversation ended.

"After leaving the house, I felt I had to go back and find out how this family got to own this beautiful menorah. After some convincing, they were ready to share their story. ‘My grandmother,’ the lady said, ‘hid a Jewish family in her home during World War II. When the Nazis took the family away, they left their belongings with her. She told us to carry this menorah with us and maybe one day we would find someone to give it to.’” 

Tears were falling down Dave’s face as he continued the story. “I said, ‘I may be the one. I lost my entire family then. Would you give me the menorah?’ When they heard my story, they immediately agreed. They felt that the menorah had finally reached its destination. 

"Since I got this menorah, I’ve become a different person; my Jewishness has been awakened and I’ve been looking to learn more about who I am. 

"A month later I found a silver item in an antique shop that seemed to be Jewish. I purchased it and later heard from my learned friend that this item is called a "mezuzah" and it’s missing the parchment. When I was on the ferry to Victoria in the summer, I saw a man who appeared to be an observant Jew, so I asked him if he knew where I can obtain that parchment.” 

Chani and I were in awe from the story. It was a very emotional moment when I handed Dave his mezuzah.

Days before Chanukah of that year, I received a letter from Dave asking if I can send him the blessing of the lighting of the menorah along with a kippa, so he can light the menorah, which lit his soul, and celebrate the Festival of Lights in his home... 

Today, Dave is the treasurer of the Thoumpson Valley Jewish organization and is looking to do programs for the community. "You know," Dave tells me, "we have Jews of all kinds. I thought a hands-on program is something that everyone would be willing to participate in. I got horns of a buffalo and was hoping we could convert them into shofars. I know it's not the perfect timing, but I still think it will be wonderful to get the Jews here to do something together. We are all one big family, aren't we...?!"

Comments on: Menorah, Mezuzah and Buffalo shofars
2/26/2010

Inna wrote...

It is ,indeed, a very moving story.

Thank you, Rabbi, for sharing it with us.
2/28/2010

Esther laredo wrote...

Rabbi,this is a beautiful story.Chabad is doing a wonderful work to bring Jews together.On the same subject,I recently received a youtube clip on new Jews whose ancestors were conversos.
Forgotten Jews are also reappering as far as China.
Thank you again for your moving story.Keep us posted how Buffalo shofars are made.