How to spell Far Rockaway, Rugby at the ICRF dinner, Meeting up with someone who changed my life

As we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving, there are countless opportunities every day to be thankful to G-d and the people in His world. Here are three that happened to me last week.

HOW TO SPELL FAR ROCKAWAY

It is a great honor to be asked to officiate at a wedding. I was given that honor by JET student, David Tirkel this past week. I watched from under the chupah as he put the ring on the index finger of his beshert, Edie Lang, at the famous White Shul in Far Rockaway, NY.  Although the wedding ceremony is fairly simple, there are detailed halachos (Jewish laws) involved in a Jewish wedding, most importantly in writing of the kesubah (marriage document). For example, the name of the city where the marriage is taking place needs to written correctly in Hebrew. I’m very grateful that there were a number of other very knowledgeable rabbis in attendance who helped with the spelling of Far Rockaway as well as some of the other details.

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The top of the kesubah with Far Rockaway and New York, spelled … very carefully.

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The new chatan and kallah, David and Edie. Mazal tov!

RUGBY AT THE ICRF DINNER

I advise my students to use the unique talents and life experiences to help them succeed in the world. I have a South African accent and I played rugby and once again I made a new friend as a result of that unique life experience. My wife and I were at the ICRF (Israel Cancer Research Fund) dinner on Wednesday evening, thanks to the kindness of Bruce and Jackie Barron. After hearing the very inspiring story of Tamir Gilat, a former Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer player, and cancer hero, I introduced myself to him and told him that I had played rugby in the Maccabi Games in Israel in 1985. Turns out he had played in the same Games! More remarkably, David Abramson, Chairman of the Chicago chapter of ICRF, was standing close by and when he heard I was a rugby player, he told me that he played rugby at the University of Michigan. So we shmoozed about the great times we had playing the game and I hope to continue the discussion another time.

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With Tamir Gilat at the ICRF Dinner at the Standard Club

MEETING UP WITH SOMEONE WHO CHANGED MY LIFE

Thanks to another wedding, this time in Chicago, the Dayan of the Beth Din (Judge of the Rabbinical Court) in Johannesburg, Dayan Baruch Rapoport, was in West Rogers Park for a couple of days to celebrate the marriage of his grandson. I call Rabbi Rapoport at least once a year to say hello and to update him on our family – and to thank him. When I was on my way to learn at Ohr Somayach yeshiva in Yerushalayim 24 years ago, I needed a signed document to prove that I was Jewish. As many of you know, I was adopted at birth. Even though I knew that my biological parents were Jewish, I needed a verified document to prove it. It was Dayan Rapoport who did the research and confirmed it for me. And it was Dayan Rapoport who told me as I was leaving his office, that my biological mother was still alive! Many years later, I met up with my mother and even later with her three daughters.  I have a wonderful relationship with all of them. Two of my sisters and their families were at Nachman’s barmitzvah in September. I have Dayan Rapoport to thank for making the connection and changing my life.

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With Dayan Rapoport

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At Nachman’s barmitzvah

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