What a Wonderful Family

Thursday, 17 July, 2014 - 5:12 pm

This week I drove my family back home from a two week visit to New York. Some of you may remember our adventures from last April, which I wrote about in a post entitled Mr. Murphy meets Rabbi Akiva  ( I had hoped that we’d had our fill of “trip experiences” but alas we would soon learn that there was another chapter in that book. This chapter however came with a beautiful lesson learned.

We were cruising through Maryland on our way to Raleigh to visit with our daughter Mushka, who is spending the summer as a camp counselor there. We ran into some rush hour traffic on the Balt/Wash Parkway when someone indicated to us that one of our tires was very low. At 4:45 PM I pulled over safely to the side of the road and discovered that the tire was indeed rapidly going flat. Now, with my two left hands, I am the first to admit that AAA membership is worth having. It took AAA about 1.5 hours to arrive at the scene. After trying unsuccessfully to remove the tire he concluded that the car would have to be towed to a nearby tire shop. A half hour later, the tow truck came but the driver informed us that he would not be allowed to tow the car with us in it. So we began the difficult task of finding a taxi that would be large enough to hold the family. The trouble was we were up against the clock as the last shop closed at 8 PM and it was already 6:45 PM. We finally found a company willing to send us a cab “in about 20 minutes or so.” We waited and waited but the cab did not show. During this time a Jewish man pulled over in a small car and asked if we needed help. We thanked him but explained that the taxi was on the way. At 7:30 we were still waiting and the tow truck driver (who was amazingly patient and was doing overtime) was getting worried about the shop closing.

Suddenly a minivan pulls over and a Chasidic man gets out and tells us that he saw us from the other side of the highway and came back around to see if we needed help. Mr. Weiss was on his way back up to New York with his wife and two children and he refused to leave us until the taxi would arrive. In the meantime I went with the truck and we got to the shop just before 8. They were very nice and changed the tire even though it took them well past closing time. Back on the side of the highway, Malkie called the taxi company for the third time and they finally admitted that they had no car and she should wait another 30-40 minutes… Mr. Weiss packed Malkie and the kids into his car and drove them to the shop, 15 minutes away. He stayed until we were sure that the tire would be fixed.

Now I have never met Mr. Weiss. In fact he hails from Satmar community in Williamsburg, one that is quite different than Chabad. Yet he felt and made us feel that we were literally brothers. The tow truck driver was sure that we had coincidentally met a friend because, otherwise, how could I leave my family in the care of perfect strangers. As I stood with the Weisses in the parking lot of the tire shop our conversation flowed easily like were friends for years.

I thought of how special it is to be part of this wonderful family. Kol Yisrael Achim – all Jews are brothers. This is not wishful thinking. I saw this in action. The Weiss family and the unnamed man that pulled over before them only did so because they saw a fellow Jew in distress and they did not want to leave a brother stranded. I am a part of the most awesome family in the world (on the micro level too of course…). For that I am thankful. We should never need it but when we do our brothers and sisters are there for us.

Chabad of Louisiana is hosting the Southeast Regional Conference of Shluchim next week. There will be an opportunity on Sunday night at 7:30 to meet and participate in a farbrengen at Chabad Uptown with the visiting Shluchim.

A video of the book review by Rabbi Nemes and myself at Barnes & Noble can now be viewed on our website, Thank you Jordan Weiss and Chezky Binkowitz for your help with the video.

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Mendel and Chaya Mushka Ceitlin upon the birth of their son. (I can recommend a good Mohel!!!) Mazel Tov to proud grandparents Rabbi Yossie and Chanie Nemes.

We welcome Debra & Dave Mintz to the New Orleans Jewish community. Welcome also to Tulane university basketball player Aaron Liberman, who transferred from Northwestern. Welcome to another Jewish basketball player, Omri Caspi, latest member of the New Orleans Pelicans. Best of luck to all you in your new endeavors.

Please visit for the latest on Operation Protective Edge and what we can do to help. See also for support and information.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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