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Gidi's last Rosh Hashana

Dear Friends,

On Monday I walked, together with hundreds of members of the community, to give the last honor to a friend and a teacher to many, Gidi Nashon Z”l.  One scene was going through my mind during these gloomy moments.  

It was on the second day of Rosh Hashana.  As of every year, soon after we came back from Shul, we got ready to walk to the Jubilee Hospital to visit Jewish patients and sound the Shofar for them.  Our Chazan, Rabbi Minkowitz and our three oldest children helped me pack a nice portion of Rosh Hashana dinner and a honey cake for each patient and we were on our way.

The level of excitement with which the patients accept us is beyond discription.  The joy that the surprise is bringing to the men and women who find themselves on the High Holidays in their least desirable place makes it a very rewarding experience.  But last Rosh Hashana it was more than that.

After visiting some friends the hour was late and Shabbat was approaching, so I asked our Chazan to take the children back home while I was going up to visit Gidi.  When I asked for him in the ward I was told that he was really not up for seeing visitors.  I explained what I was coming for and the nurse allowed me to walk in carefully.

gidi.jpgI walked in behind the curtain and saw Gidi laying there fragile and weak. As soon as he saw me there was a half smile, somewhat bitter on his pale face.  I told Gidi that I came to blow the Shofar for him for Rosh Hashana. Suddenly Gidi’s face was changed.  He was glowing with a full broad smile. After saying the blessings I blew the Shofar,  Gidi closed his eyes and it looked like he was transcending to a different world with profound peacefulness.

In our short conversation thereafter Gidi told me that a few hours earlier he was told that he had cancer and it is not treatable.  The body of Gidi was failing but his soul was in full strength.

I left the room and dashed down the stairs to make it back home before the sun set and Shabbat began. Coming up the stairs was a Jewish nurse I knew, and I offered to blow the Shofar for her. 

As I was leaving the patient care centre I realized that I had only 14 minutes to get home, and the only way I’d get there on time would be if I ran, and so I did . While panting all the way home all I was able to think about was that dramatic change in Gidi as soon as he knew that he was going to hear the Shofar.

This same image was in front of me when saying goodbye to Gidi.  I hope this memory will inspire me forever. 


This week I'm on my own; Chani is attending the annual conference of Shluchot (Chabad Rebbetzins from around the world).  Many of you contacted me to find out how I'm managing with the children, so while it is not an easy task, this is not really what it is all about. 

Yes, it is correct that no one can nurture the children like their mother, and no one has the infinite patience like Chani has, but I think there is something that you may not be fully aware of and I would like to share it with you.

The Rebbe of blessed memory, who established the outreach movement of Chabad, did a conceptual revolution that is perhaps one of the most radical paradigmatic shift of his teachings.

For generations the Rebbetzin was the wife of the Rabbi.  A lady who was dominant in the home and the education of the children, and a source of support for her husband who was holding the communal position.

The Rebbe didn’t send Rabbis to revive community and increase Jewish life, he sent couples to do that. In his view, the communal responsibility and the mission is shared equally by the husband and wife.  The Rebbetzin is a community leader and a source of teaching, guidance, and inspiration no less than the Rabbi.

This is what Chani and a few thousand of her colleagues do at the conference in New York.  They are not discussing how to be a wife of a Rabbi, but they come together to strengthen their roles as spiritual leaders and driving forces for Jewish life in their communities.

These days it isn’t only the house that is not in order, it is Chabad that is not functioning properly until Chani will return and get things back in order.

One thing I can do only when she is away – write a blog as the one I'm writing now.  If she was here – it wouldn’t have passed... 

Biological clock of the Jewish soul

On Wednesday, Leon Zetler, owner of “Aubergine", called me.  “Rabbi, are you coming to see me today? I have a special gift for you”…

I enjoy visiting Leon anytime; aside from shmoozing with a good friend, and being the only store that sells Kosher meat and Israeli products on the Island, often I get to meet other members of the community shopping there.  In fact, a few of our good friends I met first at this specialty food grocery in Fernwood.  However, the 'special gift' got me really curious.

Leon.jpgAs I walked into Aubergine later that day, Leon handed me a huge case of mandarin oranges.  “I just got these beautiful and tasty oranges from Israel. It’s a gift for your family!"

After thanking Leon for the nice gesture, I ask with excitement "Do you know what’s the date today?”

“February fourth, why are you asking?” was his response.

“You wouldn’t believe it!"  I told Leon, “You have given us the most perfect gift! Today is Tu Bshvat and as I’m sure you know there is a Jewish custom to eat fruits from the land of Israel TODAY!”.

Leon was shocked from the coincidence.  To me it was clear that it was the biological clock of the Jewish soul that gave him this random idea!

On Tu B’shvat our family joined many generations of Jews who made great efforts to taste fruits from our homeland.  By us though it came with no effort...

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