By Malkie Hirsch
A spray of gravel hit the path as Dovid and I walked along the walkway to his bunk.
“Who’s taking care of minyan when I go to Disney?” he asked as we made it to his bunk on the night of the Camp Munk circus. “You know I won’t go if I can’t make a daily minyan. And what time is our flight on Monday? Can I make it to shul before we go?”
I’ll admit that it’s not something I had taken into account until he posed that question.
“It’s being taken care of, don’t worry, Dovs,” I said with a measure of confidence I definitely didn’t have. But I find myself doing that a lot these days.
Just fake it until I make it.
The following day, I composed a couple of texts regarding finding Dovid a minyan for the three days he’d be away.
As hard as she tried, Orly (the woman planning the Disney trip for Penina’s Helping Hand) couldn’t ensure more than seven men readily available to daven at the resort.
“What time is his flight out of JFK?” my father asked as we sat in my house the Shabbos before the trip.
“Oh, gosh. It’s really early — a 7:30 a.m. flight,” I responded as I looked at the printout of their itinerary. “How are we going to get him to Shacharis before his fight? He’ll have to wake up at the crack of dawn!” I said.
That’s when the plan was hatched. The boys were first flying to Toronto from JFK and then flying from Toronto to Orlando. That meant it was an international flight and leaving from Terminal 4 — the location of the International Synagogue, a well-appointed and cozy shul right there on the side of the departure area.
My father started making a count of the men he knew could be there as early as we needed, at around 5:30 a.m. He knew Rabbi Ari Korenblit, the rabbi of the JFK shul. The rabbi told him to just tell him what we need and he would make it happen. The rabbi was there at 4:30 a.m. on the day of the minyan.
And before I knew it, a minyan was arranged for the morning of the boys’ flight to Disney. Some of the members were my siblings — Yochanan, Dovi, Nison, and Nachi — and Moshe’s Uncle Ira, and then, from the most special place, Yeshiva of South Shore, my boys’ school, Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, Rabbi Zev Davidowitz, Rabbi Yehoshua Meltzer, and Rabbi Avraham Robinson.
“I hear we’re going to have a special minyan at Terminal 4 before the boys embark on their Disney adventure!” said Rabbi Kamenetzky when we spoke on erev Shabbos (which is a call he started making every week since Moshe’s petirah).
I tried finding the words to express my appreciation that he and the rebbeim were not only OK with waking up at 4:30 a.m. to daven with this minyan, but seemed thrilled at the prospect of doing so. During their summer break, when they could attend an 8:00 a.m. minyan, they instead chose to show Dovid that they were going to be there for him every step of the way.
And this was an important display of love and care for Dovid and my other boys. It also shows Dovid that his insistence in making sure he has a minyan no matter what time or location is not something silly or unnecessary for a boy his age. This is an important step for Dovid to remain connected to a father he can no longer see, as this minyan and the Kaddish that Dovid says for Moshe is the bond that holds them together.
But of course it didn’t end there.
When Orly had told me that she couldn’t ensure the hotel minyan at Disney, the man who mentors the boys (who himself lost his mother at a young age) told me that he’d take it upon himself to get Dovid to the Chabad minyan, roughly 20 minutes from the resort they’d be staying at.
Dan Rubinoff changed his vacation plans to be there for my boys. He had an attorney draw up papers that would allow him to take Dovid and Nison to minyan, and the next obstacle was crossed off the list. As it turned out, there were other frum guests at the hotel when the boys arrived and they had a minyan inside the hotel.
At the start of the JFK minyan, two young men from Israel who had just arrived figured they would step into the shul to daven by themselves before continuing on their trip. They were traveling to Portland, Oregon, to see an eye specialist to help one of the two men who was having serious sight issues. They walked in, and, lo and behold, there were 17 men in tallis and tefillin, with my brother Yochanan davening from the amud and our dear friend Larry Stern reading from the Torah. Also our sincere gratitude to Baruch Ber Bender who sent three men just to make sure we would definitely have a minyan.
The two young men from Israel did not immediately understand what was going on. “Where do you live? Where are you traveling to?” one of them asked my father. “We live nearby,” he said. “And we are not traveling anywhere; we are going home after this.”
As I write this, I shake my head in wonder at the love and care that so many people have shown us in the last five months. The idea that so many are rallying behind us to make things as happy, as comfortable, as easy, and as effortless as possible warms my heart and makes me feel like we’ll never have to be alone in this. We’ll always have our family, friends, school principals, and even some strangers trying their best to help out in any way they can.
Malkie’s husband, Moshe, a’h, passed away in March at the age of 40. Over the past few months, Malkie has been sharing her thoughts with readers on her Instagram page @Kissthekoshercook. We are privileged to share her writings and reflections with our readership. May Moshe’s memory be a blessing for Malkie and her beautiful family.