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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Red Miracle Van


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The Schwartzes had three vehicles but only two drivers. At any given time the third vehicle, the 2005 red Ford van, could be seen on different driveways throughout the neighborhood – and sometimes even in Miami Beach and Hollywood, Florida. The Schwartzes kept a third vehicle, knowing that not everyone had a car.

Many people come to South Florida because of the excellent medical care, and while there they must deal with the cost of housing and food – and the loss of income. The Schwartzes wanted such people to at least be sure they had transportation and didn’t have to rely on renting a car or paying for a cab.

They first came up with the idea when Rabbi Rosen was in town for a liver transplant. The rabbi’s family was with him and they didn’t have transportation to get around. The Schwartzes realized Rabbi Rosen was saddled with many concerns and although they couldn’t solve all of them, transportation was one burden they could remove. For the few months that the Rosens were in town, they drove the red Ford van.

When other people were in town for medical procedures, they drove the red Ford van as well. When a member of the community lost his job and couldn’t afford to replace his car, the red Ford van showed up in his driveway. When someone had an accident and the insurance didn’t cover a rental, the red Ford van appeared in his driveway. The red van was a lifesaver to many people.

One day, Mr. Schwartz’s sister was in town and took the Schwartz children with her. An accident occurred and the van was totaled. No one knew how anyone got out of that van alive, but none of the Schwartzes or the driver received so much as a scratch.

The Schwartzes’ van was always a lifesaver for everyone. Perhaps that’s why it was a lifesaver for them.

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The Schwartzes had three vehicles but only two drivers. At any given time the third vehicle, the 2005 red Ford van, could be seen on different driveways throughout the neighborhood – and sometimes even in Miami Beach and Hollywood, Florida. The Schwartzes kept a third vehicle, knowing that not everyone had a car.

In 2001, the year of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, my husband and I were both in mourning for close relatives. As a woman, I did not have the responsibility of attending a minyan to recite Kaddish. So I never realized how complicated it could get.

Note to readers: When I heard the words, “You give us seven minutes and we’ll give you the world” on the radio at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, July 13, I never thought that what I was about to hear would shake me to the core and change my world forever. I could not come to myself – and I’m sure most of klal Yisraelcouldn’t either. So I sat down and the following poem spilled forth. Because it is written in a simple style, simple enough for any child to understand, I hope it does not seem to trivialize what happened; it is just my humble reaction to an earth-shattering event.

My husband of 40 years is always ready to help people. He is also very kind to his family and is always eager to embark on a family outing. However, he has one stipulation. He would rather not drive long distances at night, as he has had challenging experiences driving in the dark in fog, rain and other inclement weather.

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