"Divinely Arranged Synchronicity"
How an urgent call to visit a newborn baby scheduled for high-risk surgery at Boston's Children's Hospital led a Chabad shliach to see G-D's ways, and how an anecdote shared by the child's mother left him in tears.
Connection: The 12th day of the Jewish month of Shvat [this year: Monday, Jan. 21] is the 7th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz of beloved memory.
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Divinely Arranged Synchronicity
A week before Passover in 2022, I [Rabbi Mayshe Schwartz] got a call from a rabbi in Miami asking me to hurry to Boston's Children's Hospital to pray for a newborn baby scheduled for high-risk surgery. The situation was urgent. It was 10 am and the baby's surgery was scheduled for 11:30 am. They wanted a rabbi and they wanted him now.
Ten minutes later, I was at Children's Hospital. I headed straight to the NICU. I wasn't sure who I was looking for and all I could see were tiny babies with wires attached to all parts of their bodies as machines beeped and lights blinked on and off. Next to every crib was a mother and father hanging on to their child's precious life with every bit of hope they could muster. The fear in the room was palpable.
I finally found a nurse who was able to guide me to the family in question. There was no time for the usual pleasantries, so I just said, "Hi, my name is Rabbi Mayshe Schwartz. G-d can do anything! Let's pray for a miracle!"
There we were: The rabbi and the mom-let's call her Tiffany-praying with intense focus. We recited psalms and prayers for the success of the impending surgery. Then I left.
The next day, I received a call from Tiffany. She told me the surgery had gone well. About a week later, the day before Passover, Tiffany called me again. The doctors wanted to perform an additional surgical procedure.
"Could you come over right now, rabbi?" she asked.
"Sure, I'll be right over" was all I could say, and I went.
When I got to the hospital, Tiffany told me the procedure had been delayed until that afternoon. We stepped into the family room and joined her husband. We all said the Shema together.
When we were done, I asked if we could finally take a moment to get to know each other. Tiffany shared that she was born in South America but grew up in Chicago in a very Christian home. When Tiffany was a teenager, her maternal grandmother, on her deathbed, revealed to her that she was born a Jew.
Tiffany had no idea what to do with that information, but it settled deep within her. She later enrolled at a large American university. Curious about her ancestry, she joined the first Jewish club she found on campus. When a B-team staffer asked her if she was Jewish, she said no, and the staffer wasn't very welcoming. She left.
She tried her luck with another organization that seemed very passionate about Jews. It turned out to be a horrible anti-Semitic group whose only passion was opposing Israel's existence. When she told them she wasn't Jewish but her maternal grandmother was, they ridiculed her, told her that she was Jewish and asked her to leave.
Tiffany continued on her journey, however, and connected with Chabad on Campus. She went to Israel on a Birthright trip. Then she went a second time on a more immersive visit, ending up in the city of Safed in northern Israel.
There, she met a rabbi who had the patience to answer her many questions. On one of the porches at Ascent Institute in Safed, she and this rabbi discussed the idea of "synchronicity," how bashert ('destiny') works, why God chooses the intricate path we traverse in life and more. He had a major impact on her decision to pursue a Jewish life.
But as she continued to share details about this unique rabbi, I started to lose it.
My father had been the scholar-in-residence at the Ascent Institute in Safed for 20 summers and the discussions she was describing were very familiar. They were all on the topics he loved to talk about most of all.
I couldn't hold myself back any longer. I interrupted and asked if she remembered the name of the rabbi. She said she didn't, but everyone called him "Schwartzie."
I started to cry. I told them that Schwartzie was my father. "He passed away five years prior and is buried in Safed," I said. We all cried tears at the synchronicity, the bashertness, of what was unfolding right in front of us. For reasons above my pay grade, I knew I had merited this connection and the privilege of being there for this family as my father had been there for Tiffany.
The good news is that the surgery was successful and we maintained our connection with Tiffany and her family. They joined us several times for Shabbat meals before they were finally able to take the baby back home to Florida.
But the story is not over.
Last week, Tiffany asked if I would come to Miami on Sept. 12, to be the Sandek at her baby's bris mila (circumcision ceremony). Of course, I said yes.
I have just returned from this special quick trip to Miami that I will never forget, where I got to hold the miracle baby as he was circumcised and finally got his Jewish name-"Chaim Mordechai." [May he live and be well in a strong Jewish home, and give much joy to his parents and extended family and to all who will know him.]
From Rabbi Mayshe's conclusion:
Rabbi Shlomo-Yitzchak ben Moshe Schwartz [7 Kislev 5705 -12 Shvat
5777 (Nov. 12,1944-Feb. 7, 2017)]
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