I am just a small-town girl whose aspirations never included the notion of traveling to exotic places. I dreamed of getting married, raising a family, and living near my parents and in-laws.
Well, as the popular Yiddish saying goes, man plans and Hashem laughs. As a young married woman, my husband and I lived in England during his tour of duty as an Air Force chaplain. Not an exotic location to be sure, and the dialects were similar. However, I spent a lot of time writing letters to loved ones (no faxes or e-mails in those days). I needed to connect with those near and dear to me. The loneliness was acute.
Upon our return to civilian life, we settled in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, where I had the privilege of raising our children in the neighborhood of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Chabad is synonymous with kiruv, reaching out to unaffiliated Jews. I love that concept. We believe that regardless of one’s religious background, it is our Yiddishe neshamah that unites all Jews.
As the children grew, so did their wonder at where they would go on shlichus (outreach) once they finished Beis Medrash or Seminary.
Personally, I was too enthralled with the miracle of being blessed with children to even think about the day that my children would leave the nest to venture to some far- off place. Frankly, I firmly pushed the possibility out of my mind.
The years passed, and my son, Chaim Ozer, decided to become a shaliach (emissary). It was hard for me to accept the reality that he would leave for a far-off destination. I expressed my feelings to him for the whole year preceding his assignment.
At that time, my mother was quite ill. I was visiting her in the hospital when we received a call from our son. He instructed us to call a particular rabbi to find out where he was being sent on shlichus. I should have realized at the time that it was strange that he could not divulge his assignment to us, but I was too concerned about my mother’s condition to think clearly.
The rabbi was very excited to inform me that Chaim Ozer was going to be sent to a certain country, one I had expressly forbidden. I was adamant. He would not go! I knew that the Rebbe would not agree to any assignment if the parents did not give their consent.
I informed the rosh hayeshiva that I had every confidence that he would find a more suitable destination for Chaim Ozer.
A few days later we learned that he would be going to Hungary. That was fine with me.
Chaim Ozer’s year of shlichus was very successful and he was asked to return the following year. He was only 20 years old at the time, but he had made a good impression on the young rabbi and rebbetzin there.
In fact, although it was too early for our son to consider marriage, they were convinced that Chaim Ozer was the perfect match for the young rebbetzin’s sister.
We knew nothing about this scenario, as it was put on the back burner for several years until the appropriate time.
It turned out to be a wonderful idea.
For the past few years, Chaim Ozer and Racheli have been on shlichus in Las Vegas, Nevada, raising a lovely family that includes little Raizy, who is named for my beloved mother.
It would seem that Hashem concurred that “mother knows best” after all!