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Mind blowing Divine Providence

Friday, 16 September, 2011 - 1:55 pm

I’m writing to you today still under a great emotional impact of yesterday’s incident.

Though Devine Providence is something you can see very often, this episode is nothing short of mind blowing.

I was on the ferry to Vancouver when I answered a call on my cell phone. “Hello, Rabbi Kaplan, I understand that Elias Mandel is a member of your community.” “Yes,” I answered. “It’s his daughter here. Elias passed away this morning.” “Elias?! Baruch Dayan HaEmet. I’m shocked."

“I see he is sponsoring a Kiddush this Shabbat in your synagogue; in fact, that’s how I found out he is a member of your community...”

And then it hit me. Two months ago, in the weekly email, we sent out an offer to sponsor kiddush in our shul for the coming year to be listed in the new calendar. I remember my surprise when Elias, who never attended services on Shabbat in our shul, let alone sponsor a kiddush, filled out a request to sponsor a kiddush for his father’s yahrtzeit in October. That Shabbat was already reserved, so we worked it out for tomorrow... Elias sponsored a kiddush for the Shabbat following his sudden passing.

I got to know Dr. Elias Mandel well in the last year. Eighty two year old, Elias, who taught medicine for over 4 decades, kept a very busy life. Elias volunteered regularly at the BC museum and took courses at the university, constantly eager to learn more. Though initially he was hesitant, after we met for a coffee a year ago, he joined two JLI courses, which I instructed. Elias was a tough student who didn’t give me any breaks, but I remember his words of reflection after the last course “Towards a Meaningful l Life.” With tears in his eyes, Elias said, “This course brought me back to cheder; you reconnected me with my Yiddishe Neshama.”

The following Pesach, Elias, who was a Cohen, came to Shul to say Birkat Kohanim (the priestly blessing). “This is the first time since I did it under my father’s talis at Sha’arei Shomaim Synagouge in Montreal” he said.

Elias's daughter, Ruth, and his sons, Mark and Eric, will arrive in Victoria in time to join us tomorrow for this emotional kiddush, sponsored by their late father, Dr. Elias Mandel, of Blessed Memory.

Comments on: Mind blowing Divine Providence

Fiona Prince wrote...

Truly amazing! I remember Elias in the JLI courses. I think he challenged all of us to think more deeply about the material. I feel honoured to have had that experience with him and look forward to meeting his family tomorrow.

Morah Faiga

Sid Tafler wrote...

wonderful story, thank-you rabbi.

Leila Lustig wrote...

Tell me, please, have the date, time and place of Elias' funeral been set? This would be much appreciated. We were friends of his.

lindy shortt wrote...

Baruch Dayan Ha Emet.

Shavua tov, Rabbi Kaplan. I have just turned on my computer after Shabbos. It is midnight in Paris. Although I did not know Dr. Elias Mandel very well, on the occasions I met him I was impressed by his strong opinions and the fact that he questioned much of what he heard, even if the questions were uncomfortable to hear. I saw and heard how much the course "Towards a meaningful life" changed his context of Yiddishkeit and was present in Shul when he was Duchening.

May his memory be a blessing to his family and to all Israel.

Lindy (from Paris)