web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Oh, What A Small Jewish World It Is…


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 rabbimales@yahoo.com.

About the Author: Kesher Israel Congregation’s Rabbi Akiva Males can be reached at rabbimales@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Oh, What A Small Jewish World It Is…”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Do you know where your vegetables grow?
Not So Kosher Shemittah L’Mehadrin
Latest Indepth Stories
Eller-102414-Cart

I had to hire a babysitter so that I could go shopping or have someone come with me to push Caroline in her wheelchair.

Bills to restore the balance of power in Israel will be fought by the not-so-judicial left.

Widespread agreement in Israel opposing Palestinian diplomatic warfare, commonly called “lawfare.”

Chaye Zisel Braun

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

We were devastated: The exploitation of our father’s murder as a vehicle for political commentary.

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

More Articles from Rabbi Akiva Males
Statue of Brig. Gen. John Gibbon

The power of “positive campaigning;” Nothing quenches your soul’s thirst like Torah.

Males-031414

At the core of traditional Judaism is the belief that our world has a Creator. This Creator knows all that goes on in our world, and remains actively involved in all of its events – no matter how insignificant some of those events might seem.

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: