Photo Credit: Jewish Press

It was mid-September and I was stuck in traffic and my plans, which were so meticulously developed, seemed to be unraveling. For the longest time I had wanted so much to see my friend from shul, a Russian fellow, who was in a rehab center in Borough Park. I would call occasionally and try to speak with him in the English words he would know.

“My wife and I miss you and wish you good health,” always seemed to get a good response, but talking over the phone wasn’t the same as seeing his sweet, smiling face. So, despite the fact that almost every minute of my day is filled with work and other responsibilities, I made an effort to find a two hour “oasis” of “Alan time” and was successful. I found a Thursday where I had a few hours coming to me on my job in Midwood, Brooklyn. I worked it out to leave my job at 2:30 p.m. for Borough Park, with seemingly plenty of time to get back to Midwood for an important 4:30 p.m. dental appointment.


If anyone has tried to drive through Borough Park, close to 3:00 p.m. on a weekday, you know about the many school buses taking the Yiddishe kinder back home. The car service driver I had engaged was moving up a few feet at a time as I checked my watch a couple of times a minute to see how my window of opportunity was dramatically closing. I felt for the “La Shana Tova” card in my pocket. I had brought it to Congregation Tomchei Torah, where I daven, and the rabbi as well as scores of others had signed it, with some adding personal messages for good health. For the people who didn’t know who he was, as he had been away for a while, I encouraged them to sign it anyway. I knew I wanted to hand the card to him personally. If I had my way, the traffic would part like the Red Sea, and I would get to him in a matter of minutes, but no such miracle was in store for me so I had to take practical measures. Rather than have the driver drop me off at the rehab center, visit my friend for a half hour, and call another car service to go back as I had originally planned, I asked the driver if she could wait for 15 minutes so that I could go back with her. She said, “Sure,” and I relaxed a bit, that was until a few moments later, when, after a call to her base, she told me she had other fares to pick up and couldn’t wait. At this point I was just hoping to get there with enough time to have some kind of a visit.

Upon finally reaching my destination, I paid the driver, rushed into the rehab center, and told the guard at the front desk the room number I wanted. He pointed to an elevator, which I hurried to and hastily pushed the button. A quick glance at my watch indicated it was 3:30. I would still have to find the number of a car service to call to take me back for my 4:30 p.m. dental appointment. Ding! The elevator came and I quickly got in and pushed his floor. When the door opened I realized I had to slow down. No matter how big a hurry I was in, it wouldn’t make for a comforting visit if I came in huffing, puffing, and out of sorts.

I took a deep breath, calmed myself, and walked down the hall to his room. I saw his name on the door and entered. I found him sitting alone on a chair adjacent to his bed. He looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back.


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