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Soul meeting in Comox

Dear friends,

Last week, as of every year on Sukkot, we traveled with a “sukkah mobile” to visit Jews across Vancouver Island. Only yesterday did I realize the significance of one meeting we had in Comox at the end of a long day. 

When we arrived in Comox, a small group met us to celebrate the holiday on that beautiful day. One of the people mentioned that Mike, a Jewish elderly man who lives close by, was planning to come but wasn’t well enough to get out.

I offered to go to his house with the sukkah to bring the festivity to his home. We confirmed on the phone that he would be ready to see us in a few short minutes.

Mike.jpgWhen Mike (in the picture) came out and saw the sukkah in the driveway of his house, he got very emotional. "Though I grew up with all of this, I haven’t practiced it for many, many years." As he held the lulav and began to say the bracha, he broke out in tears...

I've often experienced emotional reactions to the “Sukkah Mobile” visits, including earlier that day, when an Israeli couple met us in Cowichan Bay "by accident," and was amazed to celebrate Sukkot in the middle of “nowhere”, but this was something else.  

Mike was grateful for our visit in an extraordinary way. "I can't thank you enough,” he said, “it made it my happiest day in a long, long time".

Yesterday I was informed that Mike just passed away.

Traveling with the sukkah across the Island was well worth it, if only to visit Mike, do a mitzvah with him, share some moments of joy, and reconnect him with his roots days before his soul returned to his creator.

Historical Simcha

Simchat Torah is a joyous day, the highlight of the entire season in the Jewish calendar. This year, the joy is above and beyond around the world due to the release of the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. In addition, this year on Vancouver Island we will be celebrating history.

Simchat Torah is a day when we complete the yearly cycle of the reading of the torah. We start from Bereshit and on this day we meet the other end of the torah scroll.

This year, we mark a milestone. For the first time, we read every parshah in the Torah with a minyan in our shul.

This is the first time in many decades that the entire torah has been read in the yearly cycle on Vancouver Island; it's a historical event.

Please join us for a great celebration of dance and joy, tomorrow, from 5:00pm and on at Chabad Family Shul.

Every year, the joy at Chabad rides high and we will need to outdo it this year.....

iPhone in the service of G-d

I have known David since he arrived in Victoria. I would meet him at events in the community and we would bump into each other on the street many times. But I got to hear David’s story only when I came to visit him in the hospital a few weeks ago.

"My father, Samuel Reisman, was, and will always be, my hero. During the holocaust, he saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children in Brussels from the hands of the Nazis. The day after my first birthday, he was taken to a concentration camp. I got to see him when he returned home after the liberation, but all his family had perished."

When I hear of families’ horror stories from the holocaust, I naturally inquire about the surviving members. David told me of his late sister, who recently passed away from a terminal illness. Then he added with sadness, "She had three children, but unfortunately they abandoned me. Though I feel very close to them, I haven’t heard from them in many years. They just run a busy life and I think I was a bit forgotten."

"Do you mind telling me their names?" I asked. Sitting with my iPhone, I quickly searched on Facebook for one of them, Vincent, a pilot in the US Air Force, and instantly confirmed with David that the man in the pictures posted is indeed his nephew. David couldn't believe how quickly his lost family was found! He browsed slowly through the pictures, seeing the growth of the family since they last met. I quickly messaged his nephew, sharing with him his uncle’s health situation and asked him kindly to get back to me.

Last week I arrived at David's bedside with his nephew on the line. David was in tears when he heard Vincent’s voice. They had a wonderful, flowing conversation. David looked better than I've ever seen since he was admitted to the hospital. They exchanged contact information and promised to keep in touch.

It felt very good to bring joy to David at this difficult time. It was very rewarding to take part in ensuring that the link of the generations and the story of the family and Davis's father will be passed to future generations. Who knows, perhaps this legacy will encourage the grandchildren to reconnect with their roots with pride and dignity.

Rest in peace Steve Jobs. Your inventions are making mitzvahs more accessible than ever before. Your iphone is in the service of G-d.

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