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A cell phone message from heaven

Dear Friends, 

In the last blog entry I mentioned the fact that it was this month, exactly seven years ago since we made our home in Victoria. I would like to share with you another story of an event that occurred when I arrived to BC for the first time, as an example of how our lives are being directed where they need to go.

Upon arrival to Vancouver, I went to a FIDO kiosk in the mall to get a cell phone for the few weeks in which Chani and I were to stay in BC. After I chose a cell phone, I was asked by the salesperson if I had a preference for a phone number. I responded that it did not matter since we were only going to be there for a short visit.  

The salesperson chose the first phone number at random and asked “What do you think of 884-3244?  I was shocked - the previous year I was teaching in a Yeshiva in Israel and my phone number was 44-3244. What are the chances of getting the exact same number as a first choice?

I realize that it was just a phone number, but G-d has His own way of sending us messages. We need to be open to receive them, and in this case I believe the message was that we are in the right place...   

Thank You!

 Dear Friends, 

Seven years ago, almost to the day, Chani and I saw the Pacific ocean for the first time as we traveled by ferry to Victoria (I recall thinking how I could not understand how anyone could sleep in their car on the ferry, since then I have done it myself many times...).

We were holding our baby Mussi, as we walked around the ferry deck, anticipating seeing the Island we had decided to spend the rest of our lives on. The sun was shining and our hearts warm and excited for the amazing opportunity to fulfill our lifelong dream. At the same time, there was also cold breeze coming from the ocean- here we are moving to a place far from our families, we do not know any one, we weren't really invited, and everything is unfamiliar. Would this experience be too cold for us to handle? 

While facing the ocean this week on the third birthday and upshernish of Mendel, our third child born in Victoria, we felt very warm. The feeling that was radiating from the community who came to celebrate with us warmed our hearts and made us feel like this is our home and everyone in attendance is our immediate family.
Thank You!

G-d is real

Dear Friends,

I want to share with you all a heart warming and precious story that happened this week at Camp Gan Israel.

Camp Gan Israel is very successful this year thanks to the many hours of preparation by Chani weeks and months prior to the camp’s first day. Bookings for special programs and activities need to be made well in advance.  Chani had made a reservation over the phone for a rock climbing trip that the kids went on this week and the confirmation was faxed back. When Chani looked at the document she was laughing so hard she was crying. Godisreal.gif

The booking confirmation was a standard one but under the category “Group Name” it said “God is real” instead of Gan Israel. When Chani told the person over the phone the name of the group he had heard "God is real"...

 I don't know if this what the person had in mind, however, if love, kindness, dedication and care is G-dly, and if children smiling is G-dliness, then, I guess he didn't made such a terrible mistake. Yes, indeed, G-d is real at Camp Gan Israel!





Unexpected donations?

A few months ago we started receiving a monthly donation for a very specific amount from an unknown woman. I had never met her before and she had never participated in any of our events. In her most recent cheque, she attached a note with her contact information, and so I quickly got in touch with her to arrange a meeting.

This Wednesday, after a long drive out to Sooke, I climbed a hill to her waterfront home. When we took the conversation deeper, it became clear that she is not Jewish, nor are any members of her family.  I then felt the need to ask her why she honours us with these donations and why she chose such a specific number each month...

"What do you mean why?" she wondered. "Doesn’t your Torah teach the world that in order to be successful and blessed you need to give a tithe of your profit to a charitable cause?! I was looking for a good cause and it was clear to me that Chabad is one - teaching authentic Judaism to everyone who seeks it, with no conditions or expectations."

She is very right. This Mitzvah - Maaser - giving a tenth of the crop to charity, is one of the first Mitzvot mentioned in the Torah regarding our patriarchs, and it is the only Mitzvah for which the Torah promises monetary reward.

Sometimes we need others to remind us what we stand for...

An inspiring Birthday Party

As a parent of five young children I have the wonderful opportunity to participate in many birthday parties of youngsters; the kids always enjoy themselves and as a parent it is a pleasure to see them having a good time.

shira.jpgThis week Chani and I and all of our children participated in a birthday party which was different. Very different.  For one thing, Shira Fisher, celebrating her 5th birthday was wearing a beautiful Indian dress.  I'm sure you are wondering what was so special about this party and why the birthday girl was wearing such interesting clothes?!...

Five years ago, shortly after the Baby Naming and Kiddush of the newborn Shira, her parents were notified by a doctor that she has SMA type 1 (spinal muscular atrophy), a genetic neuromuscular disease that causes severe degeneration of the muscles. This meant that the child would have almost no ability to move most of her limbs, and doctors predicted she would live for two to three years.

Sitting with the Fishers that night was very painful; Brad and Maxine were absolutely devastated. What do you tell the parents of such a beautiful baby who have just heard this kind of news?

Shira's health was very unstable and we started visiting her regularly at the hospital, saying Tehilim by her bed and praying for her health and strength.

Brad dropped his work and career and invested one hundred percent of his time in Shira. He studied the disease and the dangers as well as the ways he could give Shira the most comfort and well-being. Together with Maxine he found the best experts in the world in this field and they have used numerous methods and every kind of equipment they can get to help Shira be happier and stronger.  They made a special play zone in their backyard with a special structure that Shira can enjoy. Brad has invested every part of himself in ensuring that Shira is as happy and comfortable as possible.

Over time, I have learned an amazing lesson from Brad. I was able to watch clearly how he changed from focusing on his pain and distress to focusing on ways he can improve her life. It was clear that one day Brad said to himself "I have no idea why this happened to me, to our family, but I clearly understand my mission - I need to make sure that Shira has the best life she can".

What a tremendous lesson. Instead of thinking of the suffering , think of the calling.  Never ask why something has happened, ask how you can help the situation; define your life mission based on what you encounter.

Now you probably wonder how all of this connects with Shira wearing an Indian dress on her fifth birthday. Brad did not only think of Shira and his family. Since he has learned so much over the last five years about what can be done for this disease, he has become a source of information for dozens of families across the globe. Other families on the edge of despair have benefited tremendously from his advice and guidance. One of these families is from India, and as a gift to Brad and Shira they sent a beautiful dress for her fifth birthday...

May the Al-mighty give us the wisdom and strength in challenging times to see our mission and our calling and to do it full time, since this may be the reason why we are here.

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