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Holocaust Survivor Shares the Light

As part of the calling of Chanukah: "to advertise the Miracle"- to share the message of the festival in the most public way, we put a special effort into having government officials attend the annual lighting at the Legislature. This year, we had a difficult time… 

The office of the Premier was open to the idea of having Premier Clark attend the Menorah Lighting this year, but later informed us that she would be out of the country. We were then bumped from one Ministerial office to the next.  Each office apologized for the minister being out of town since there were to be no more fall sessions this year at the Legislature.

Days before Chanukah, we were contacted by the secretary of the Honourble Don McCrae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovations, who informed us that the Minister was graciously willing to represent the Government at the annual ceremony.

This year, we had a great occasion - Dr. Peter Gary, a holocaust survivor, who has been an inspiration for many in our community, lit the Menorah in honour of both his upcoming 90th birthday this spring and his oratorio, "A 20th Century Passion" to be performed on March 2, 2014 at the University of Victoria.

Since his arrival on the Island, Dr. Gary had been giving talks at schools across the province. While there, he had shared his horror experiences at the concentration camps and inspired children to stand for tolerance, acceptance, love, and respect.

 When Minister McCrae arrived at the lighting, I informed him that Dr. Gary would be lighting the Menorah. As I started to describe who Dr. Gary was, the Minister was overwhelmed with excitement. "I know him very well", he said. "I had been a principal of a School in the Comox Valley for many years and Peter spoke at my school several times!"

I was amazed by the Divine Providence of the fact that after all the trouble we had in finding a government representative to attend the Chanukah Lighting, we had Minister McCrae lighting the Menorah this year. Before I had a chance to say anything, I saw the Minister giving a warm hug to his old friend.

 While the Minister was talking, he put his notes aside and dedicated his talk on behalf of his personal experience with the ‘light’ spread by Dr. Gary. No wonder then that the next morning, the Times Colonist newspaper headline read: "Holocaust Survivor Shares the Light".


Password to Jewish Discovery

It started as an ordinary phone call to an office, inquiring about an account, but it ended on a very different note.

Chani was trying to access her account on the Government website for the monthly Daycare Support but - very surprisingly - her password was rejected time and again, so she got on the phone with the office.

When one answer to the security question didn't match what they had an the record, Chani realized that the account was created by the secretary in the office who gave her own answers...  Then came another question "which historical figure do you admire?" she was asked. "Moses perhaps" was her guess. "You maybe right" the man said "we just have a different spelling - Moshe..."

"How do you know how to pronounce 'Moshe' correctly?" Chani wondered. "I heard it before" the man explained "because my mother is Jewish". "If your mother is Jewish - that makes you 100% Jewish too" Chani said to the now surprised person.

You can imagine that before the phone conversation ended - Chani had already connected the man with a Local Chabad Rabbi of his town...

Chani was happy to know there was a good reason for her password being rejected, and I was amazed by her ability to realize the opportunity in a very technical phone conversation...


Hope and Faith on the Go

On Tuesday I left, together with our son Leibel, to take part in the international conference of Shluchim (Chabad Rabbis). I thought I had my trip planned well, but as the saying goes "a mensch tracht un Got lacht" (a man plans and G-d laughs..)
Our flight was leaving Seattle on Tuesday night; we were on our way to Swartz Bay early afternoon, I was planning on spending the trip bonding with Leibel.

When we arrived at highway 99, we found ourselves in very heavy traffic that very soon became a long parking lot that wasn't moving anywhere. In the beginning it was just a little delay but as the clock ticked, we started to get a bit restless.

I called Chani just to find out that our tickets were for the last flight from Seattle to New York, so if the traffic were to continue a bit longer, we'd have to think of alternative plans.

As we drove about ten km in two hours, I started to slowly hint to Leibel that we may need to change the plans, perhaps we would sleep over in Vancouver and take a flight the next day, but then Leibel would have missed one of the highlights of the trip. Leibel didn't want to hear about it, "we must go tonight, we will make it" he said.

Leibel saw that I was giving up. While I started to think where should we stay in Vancouver, Leibel handed me the IPad he was playing with.


"I made a picture of us standing in traffic and this is a car, we think that we will never get out of this, but Mashiach may come and we will all be traveling to Yerushalaim" he said and pointed to the thought cloud with a picture of the Beit Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) in Jerusalem. 

A few minutes later the traffic cleared and we were on our way. I looked at the time and with a simple calculation I figured that if the border was clear and there were no delays at all, we would be there forty minutes before the flight; we would need to park the car, check in etc. etc.

Looking at Leibel's hopes rising, I couldn't give up. I decided to give it all I had.

To make the long story short, there was no wait at the border, and no delays. We got to the airport thirty-five minutes before the flight; the airline staff was extremely nice and escorted us through security to the gate and -after rushing through the Seattle airport which is more like a big maze - we made it just on time to board the plane.

It was only when the airplane started taking off that I realized what had happened here. I knew how we made it and how we can make it to our other destinies and goals of life, with perseverance that comes from hope and faith.


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