As Purim approaches, thousands of Israeli children and families grapple with poverty
Kesher Israel Congregation’s daily minyan in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is often enhanced by travelers passing through who are happy to join us. These visitors cover the spectrum of Jewish practice, yet somehow joining in prayer lets us unite our all-too-often fractured people.
The other week I received a phone call from someone named Larry (all names in this story have been changed), a traveler who was in the area for a business meeting. He was eager to join us for our Tuesday afternoon Mincha/Maariv minyan. I gave him directions and was glad to welcome him when he arrived.
After services, I talked with Larry and learned that he was saying Kaddish for his recently deceased father. He was grateful that our minyan allowed him to keep up his perfect Kaddish reciting streak.
When Larry told me his last name was Klopstein (again, the names here have been changed) I felt the urge to play a little Jewish Geography and asked him if he was related to a wonderful couple in my parents’ Cleveland synagogue named Mr. and Mrs. Abe and Sarah Klopstein.
Larry immediately told me that Abe was a distant cousin, but they had fallen out of touch years ago. Before leaving, Larry handed me his business card and asked me to give his cousin Abe his regards the next time I was in touch with him.
I figured I would call my parents for a short “what a small world it is” conversation, and dialed my father’s cell phone. My father answered in a very subdued voice and told me he was still at shul in Cleveland; their minyan was just finishing.
When I asked my father if Abe Klopstein happened to be there at the minyan with him, I was thrilled when he replied, “Sure. Let me hand him the phone.”
I went on to tell Mr. Klopstein all about the man I had just met in Harrisburg, and there was a moment of silence.
“Larry’s father – the one he was reciting Kaddish for – was my first cousin,” he told me. “I hadn’t known that he passed away. Thanks for telling me, though.”
When I began to apologize for being the bearer of bad news, Mr. Klopstein stopped me and said, “Akiva, there’s no reason to apologize. Your phone call made my night.”
Mr. Klopstein sensed my confusion and continued, “You see, it’s been many years since the last time I saw my cousin’s son Larry. I can assure you that a shul for a Mincha/Maariv minyan is the last place in the world I would have imagined anyone bumping into Larry. You have no idea how happy you made me.
“Not only has Larry found his way back to shul, but even when he’s away on business, Larry goes out of his way to be at a minyan to recite Kaddish! I can assure you his father – my late cousin – is also very pleased. Akiva, thank you so much for calling.”
I gave Mr. Klopstein the contact information from Larry’s business card, and my father told me he left the shul in Cleveland smiling from ear to ear.
I’ve always felt Kesher Israel’s daily minyan is a special place. That night, however, it also had the merit of reconnecting two long-lost relatives and giving a wonderful man in Cleveland a true sense of comfort.
Rabbi Akiva Males is spiritual leader of Kesher Israel Congregation in Harrisburg, PA. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
About the Author: Kesher Israel Congregation’s Rabbi Akiva Males can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Values at the very heart of the UN are threatened by extremist ideologies targeting our way of life
Any Jew who ties his fate to Israel should be able to vote in Israel’s elections-even before aliyah
Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.
The president has made clear – I can’t state this more firmly – the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.
Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general
Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.
In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.
Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address
Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.
The power of “positive campaigning;” Nothing quenches your soul’s thirst like Torah.
In a short span of time our shul raised and distributed thousands of dollars for relief organizations.
In 2007 my parents decided it was time to downsize and sell their home of more than thirty years. To help them pack up and move into their new apartment, I returned to Cleveland to offer my assistance.
Two recent experiences served to drive home the point to me that – with apologies to the popular Disney musical boat ride “It’s a Small World” – it really is a small Jewish world.
“Rabbi, is there any religious requirement for Jewish men to wear mezuzahs around their necks?”
“Rabbi, if you yourself are clean-shaven, why does this inmate claim his Jewish religion prohibits him from using a razor on his face?”
We are all aware of the terrible divisions among Israel’s Jewish population. My friends and colleagues in Israel tell me they cannot remember a time in recent years where so much fragmentation existed. All this when the external threats facing Israel grow greater by the day.
No matter our stage in life, one is seldom comfortable feeling left out. Unfortunately, many American Jews experience exactly that feeling each year as Christmas approaches. The term “December Dilemma” is used to describe the tension many Jews feel sitting on the sidelines, unable to fully enjoy or participate in the distinctly Christian themes and activities occurring all around.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/oh-what-a-small-jewish-world-it-is/2010/09/01/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: