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The story of a Facebook picture...

Dear Friends,

In the midst of days that we have been horrified with terrible news, I would like to share a story that came to a very happy ending this week.

A year ago, a woman who lived in New York whom I never met, wrote to me on Facebook with an unusual request:    

"Rabbi, whenever I see your beautiful children's pictures, I feel moved to write this message to you.  I would like to request that you pray for me.  I've been married for a long time and we don’t have any children, even though me and my husband don't have any problems.”

The first thought that came to my mind was the story that I heard first hand from a woman in our community.  She was married for many years and wanted desperately to have children but wasn’t blessed with any.  A friend suggested to her to visit the Rebbe.  The Rebbe received her graciously, gave her a blessing, and suggested that she should start keeping the Mitzvah of Taharat Hamishpacha and use the Mikvah.  Shortly after she and her husband started to followd this Mitzvah, they were blessed with a beautiful baby, who until today she calls, “The Rebbe’s boy.”

“We will definately add you to our prayers,”  I wrote back to my new Facebook friend.  “But I would recommend that you start following the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha, and may we hear good news".

To make a long story short, this week I got a message from the lady that she gave birth to healthy twins, a boy and a girl, with beautiful pictures attached.


I don’t dismiss anymore the concept of Facebook “friends” or the idea of posting statuses or pictures; I know that any tool that can connect us could have startling results.

Coming back home...

Yesterday I had one of the most powerful meetings since I came to Victoria and I am very happy to share it with you.

Through a very interesting chain of events I was told that an older Jewish woman just moved to the Island and that contacting her may be a positive thing.  After a short while I went to see Elise, who was living with her son and family by the Sidney waterfront.

Elise.jpgI just sat down and she started directly to tell her life story, as if she was waiting a long time to share it.  She was born in the mid 20s to an observant Jewish family in Paris.  At age 13, shortly after the war broke out, she was taken to a concentration camp, and eventually she arrived at Auschwitz.  She went into the gas chambers, but moments before hundreds of Jews including her immediate family were gassed, she and another girl were taken out and her life was saved. 

I looked at her arm and saw the numbers which were tattooed onto a young girl's arm at that bloody death camp.  This was the first time since I came to the Island that I saw this humiliating sign.

She went through 5 years of the worst physical and emotional horror one can imagine, and finally in April 1945 she was liberated from Bergen Belsen. She ended up marrying an English solider of the British 11th Armoured Division who liberated the camp. 

Since them Elise lived in small towns in the UK and in Canada and never got involved with Jewish people or community. "For the last 70 years the only Jews I saw were my eight children".

I told Elise that it was not too late to reconnect, and that there was to be no expectation of her. "We consider you a hero of our time and a member of our family", I said.  Elise was moved to tears, as she was waiting for decades for an opportunity to reconnect with Jewish life.

Tomorrow she'll join us in our Shul for Shabbat Services, and we will all welcome Elise to Shul for the very first time since her pre-war childhood.

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