Wednesday, February 11, 2015

It's a small Jewish world after all

If you know Judy Greene, you know that she is a very competitive person. All her mah jong partners and anybody who has ever played cribbage with her understands exactly what I mean. When Judy and I were a young couple and visiting Israel, we had a contest who could walk down the streets of Jerusalem and bump into more people you know.  I think I won, but it was really close.

That little game taught me that you never know who you will meet at any given moment in Israel.  I had one of those moments when I flew to Israel to escort Judy home after she fell and dislocated her hip. One of the nice things about Jerusalem is that you can find a minyon any time you need one.  Because I am saying kaddish for my mother and was jet lagged, I was looking for a late morning minyon.  My good friend Peretz pointed me the way to this Sephardic shul that had an 8:00 a.m. minyon which is extremely late for Israelis.

I don't know why they daven nusach Sephard because the machers of the minyon were all North American. I can't say that this was the friendliest synagogue in the world.  Nobody really said good morning, although I got a couple of head nods, and nobody introduced themselves to me. Up to then, the closest I came to somebody interacting with me was on the second day was when a man came over to me during services and wordlessly straightened my shel rosh.

On my third and final day, somebody did come over and started talking to me.  He asked me if I had made aliyah and where I came from.  I told him that I live in Douglaston/Little Neck Queens New York. To keep the conversation flowing, I asked him where he came from.  He told me Massachusetts.  I asked him where.  He told me that I would have never heard of the place. It's called Longmeadow.  To his surprise, I asked him where in Longmeadow and he gave me a street name and of course I told him I knew the street.  He was shocked and asked me how did I know Longmeadow?  I told him that I lived in Longmeadow for 19 years and that I am Rabbi Greene who was the rabbi of B'Nai Jacob.  He said: "No Way."  

Where ever I have lived, I have started a chevruta to learn some classical Jewish texts.  When I was in Longmeadow I started studying with Rabbi Michael Miller and another rabbi Ira whose last name escapes me. This man from Longmeadow couldn't believe his ears.  He remembered me because when he was a senior in High School, he wanted to learn some Gemarrah so he joined our study sessions 37 years ago!

What a blast from the past! This "coincidence" just reinforce the halacha that one should always daven in a minyon if he or she can. You never know who you might meet there.