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Tim Tebow's got nothing on Chabad - our Chanukah miracle

Friday, 23 December, 2011 - 11:46 am

Chanukah is about miracles; the miracle of the battle, the miracle of the oil. Here is a little miracle of our own. One of the frustrating things about an outdoor event such as Chanukah @ Riverwalk is that there is always the risk of the weather being too cold or rainy. This year was no different. We had been eying the weather forecast for days with mounting concern. As the day of the event drew closer the forecast became more ominous. Thunderstorms, a tornado watch, temperature dropping.

On Wednesday, I received an email from my buddy, LJ Goldstein of the Krewe De Jieux, who’s Chanukah Second Line Parade, begins at the event at Riverwalk. He asked, “Do y’all have a plan for if it rains?” I was running around getting things in order for the event and read the email on my blackberry. I replied with one word, “Prayer.” Yesterday, as the rain was pouring down, I received another email from him saying, “…keep praying.” And boy did we pray. We did not just rely on our own prayers. We also wrote a request for a blessing from the Rebbe to be placed at the Ohel.

Still things did not look good. As we arrived to begin setting up at 1 PM, there was a 5 minute break in the rain and a rainbow stretched over the Mississippi. I thought that we beat it. But then shortly afterward it started pouring again. By around 3 PM, the rain came to a sudden halt and the sun came out and started baking down on the Spanish Plaza. This gave us just enough time set up, and to convince people that it was dry enough to make the trip downtown for the event. In the end the weather during the event was wonderful. It even warmed up as the day wore on. Talk about pulling it out in the 4th quarter…

Over 500 people came out to enjoy the festivities and it was a beautiful event. I will write more about it and include pictures next week. Here is a link to a photo by Chris Granger of the Times Picayune of David Rittvo lighting the Menorah. http://photos.nola.com/tpphotos/2011/12/riverwalk_menorah.html. And another of the children watching the program. http://photos.nola.com/tpphotos/2011/12/riverwalk_menorah_1.html.

This story brought to mind a similar occurrence that took place in 1991, while I was studying at the Yeshiva in New York. One the Sunday of Chanukah I got a call from my cousin, who was visiting New Orleans to help out with the Chanukah programs. He told me that it was raining and the Chanukah @ Riverwalk was in danger of being flooded out. He asked me to approach the Rebbe to ask for a blessing. It just so happened that the Rebbe was distributing Chanukah gelt at the time, so I went. As I received my gelt, I asked in Yiddish for a blessing for the Menorah lighting in New Orleans. The Rebbe turned to me and replied in Hebrew “Hatzlacha Rabba – much success.” I ran home and called New Orleans and was told that the rain just stopped and the sun is out. That night over 750 people attended Chanukah @ Riverwalk.

Chanukah reminds us that we must be thankful to G-d for all the miracles, large and small, that we encounter each day.

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom

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