What a week! For Lag Ba’omer, we took our Hebrew School for a car parade (it’s kinda still snowy here) to the Alaska Zoo! What did you do?
Anyways, as I said last week, for my first story I will be taking you back to after the Holocaust, how the Bobover Rebbe managed to bring many refugees to America.
“It was in 1946,” The Bobover Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, related. His wife and children had been killed in the holocaust, and his only surviving son, Naftalche, was in Israel. Everyone was alone – and so was he. He prayed in another Rebbe’s synagogue, with no money, in a small apartment in Manhattan.
“I heard about a congressman Sol Bloom. Everyone said that he was the most powerful congressman in Washington, and he could help. I had no chassidim (followers), friends, or family to call my own. I was a nobody. All my chassidim were back in Europe, and had no way to get out. They did tell me, that although he could help, he was a stickler for law, and of course, back then, everything was against the law if they wanted to bring Jews out of Europe and into America.”
It was impossible to get an appointment. After six months, he finally got an appointment with him in Washington – for five minutes. “I took the bus from New York, slept overnight on a bench in a shul to make sure I’d be on time. I got there early. I introduced myself to the secretaries, and they told me to wait. “Two hours later, I was called in. I went inside, and the congressman, ever so busy shuffling and checking his papers, barely looked up. He finally noticed me, and barked, “Who are you?”
“I realized that if I were to say “Hello, my name is Shlomo Halberstam from Galicia”, I’d be kicked out of his office right then and there. So I had to think of something that would perk his curiosity and attract his attention.
So I said, “Mr. Congressman, I am a lawbreaker.
He looked up at me, shocked. “Explain yourself!” he demanded.“Mr. Congressman, where I come from, the law was that all Jews had to be transported to Auschwitz. Where I come from the law was that Jews were to be led into gas chambers… You know, my wife and children followed that law, but I, I, I managed to break those laws, and that’s why I’m here in your office today.” Tears welled up in my eyes, and I continued.
“The law was that you were not allowed to hide in the forests.
“The law was that you were not allowed to help others hide.
“The law was that you were not allowed to smuggle yourself out either!
“And now you are going to ask me why I am standing here telling you this. I’ll tell you why. I am here to ask you, to plead with you, to beg you, to help rescue your brothers and sisters who are left with nothing back in Europe. “You’re going to quote me chapters and verses of American law that prevents you from helping. I do not care. I am a lawbreaker. I am a lawbreaker because I believe that if there are laws that permit people to be put to death just because they are Jewish, those laws are evil, and must be broken.”
At this point I broke down in tears. I couldn’t go on. And when I looked up… I saw tears pouring down the congressman’s cheeks – he was crying will me.
The rest is history. Together, big law-and-order tough guy, Sol Bloom and the Bobover Rebbe, smuggled boat loads of refugees into New York, and he stamped false entry visas for him.
I would love to hear your comments! If you would like a specific story published, let me know! Hope you enjoyed.