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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777
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A Chance Minyan At The Cemetery

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This is a story about my father-in-law. On the 12th of Tevet, the yahrzeit of his father, Yaakov Eliezer ben Yosef Dov, took place. Rav Yaakov passed away 44 years ago. That night, my wife hosted a yahrzeit seudah (meal) in our home. My father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Lazarus, told stories about his father, accompanied by divrei Torah.

The next day dawned clear and brisk as my father-in-law, mother-in-law, wife and two children prepared for the trek to the cemetery on Long Island. The trip usually takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, but this time it took 50 minutes. As we drove, my father-in-law commented wistfully how nice it would be to be able to recite Kaddish at the grave. But how does one pull a minyan out of a hat in 30-degree weather in the middle of a workweek?

We arrived at the cemetery. As we pulled up to the office area, we saw a busload of Nadvorna chassidim who were there for the previous Nadvorna Rebbe’s yahrzeit. They had just finished davening at his gravesite, and were getting ready to leave. My wife ran over and asked the current Nadvorna Rebbe if his group would please join her father for a Mishnah and Kaddish. As it turns out, my grandmother stems from Nadvorna, a small town in Poland. The Rebbe answered, “Of course!” and they all piled back on the bus and followed our car to the grave. They respectfully listened as my father-in-law spoke, and then recited a heartfelt Kaddish.

My father-in-law thanked the Rebbe for his chesed. In turn, the Rebbe gave my father-in-law a warm blessing. As they got on the bus, the chassidim called out, “See you next year!”

I was awed by these events. We merited meeting a group to say Kaddish on a lonely, wintry day. And the group was none other than descendants from my grandmother’s hometown.

Dovid Winiarz

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