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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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An American Odyssey (Part 6)


Gilor-Dov

Were the “Hamish” Indians Jewish? On our way to Santa Fe, we stopped to visit the Jemez Pueblo and learn about the local Indian tribes. We mentioned to the squaw at the museum entrance that “Hamish” is a Yiddish word and that it had a meaning similar to the Indian word. She had never heard of that before (and she really did not look Jewish). As we left the Pueblo we viewed the magnificent red rocks and the nearby mountains and drove through an immense forest more than 8,000 feet above sea level.

We entered the town of Los Alamos. Forest fires in the area we had just left had threatened to cause the evacuation of the town, and we wanted to visit the Bradbury Science Museum before they closed the town. I, as an avid science fiction reader, had thought that the museum was named for the famous science fiction author, Ray Bradbury, and was a bit disappointed to learn that it was named for Morris E. Bradbury, the scientist head of the Manhattan Project. The disappointment dissipated when we saw the very interesting exhibits depicting the period of the development of the bomb during World War II. We enjoyed the many exhibits and the film about the super-secret town, “The Town that Never Was,” and the secret lives of the scientists, including Albert Einstein. It told of the cooperation between Roosevelt and Churchill to beat the Germans in developing an atomic weapon. The museum had replicas of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war in August of 1945.

Barbara and Dov Gilor with Rabbi Levertov in front of the Santa Fe mikvah.

After leaving the museum, we visited the beautiful Capitol Building in Santa Fe and enjoyed a guided tour of the chambers and the lovely artwork displayed outside many of the offices. As Shabbat was approaching, we drove to the home of Rabbi Levertov, the local Chabad rabbi. When we arrived, we learned that his wife and children had left for Crown Heights for the Lubavitcher Rebbi’s yahrzeit commemoration and that Rabbi Levertov was scheduled to leave on Sunday. He told us not to worry, however, because one of the local women was in charge of cooking Shabbat meals at the Chabad Center and that we were eating all of our meals with the community.

On Friday night, more than 50 people came for tefillah, the Shabbat meal and the special Chabad Jewish companionship. Similar to what we experienced in many other Chabad locations, almost all of those attending were not (yet) personally religious, but they craved, at least once a week, to be in a Jewish surrounding. At the first Shabbat meal, I spoke about Israeli scientific and industrial innovations and enjoyed the questions of the many college-age participants. On Shabbat, I spoke about life in our settlement community and fielded many questions about the importance and legality of our community.

Words are never enough to portray the fantastic kiddush Hashem of the work done by the Chabad emissaries. Each time we visit a Chabad community, we are again impressed by the warm and wonderful Chabad families who willingly suffer their personal isolation from the centers of religious Jews in order to bring a little Yiddishkeit into the lives of their fellow Jews. We have travelled all over the United States and to many other countries, including China, Russia, Canada, Scotland, Australia, and Alaska, where we have enjoyed Chabad hospitality from the Rebbi’s shluchim and we are continually impressed by their mesirat nefesh.

By Minchah time, only one fellow religious traveler and a young man studying Hebrew with the rabbi showed up, yet we concluded the Shabbat in a warm and peaceful atmosphere. On Sunday morning, before Rabbi Levertov left for Crown Heights, he took us on a tour of the beautiful adobe-style mikvah that he had built adjacent to his home, with beautiful mosaic tiles and piped in music.

We had traveled more than 3,370 miles in the first two weeks of our trip, and were on our way to the Grand Canyon.

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

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