The attitude on my part anyway, was to always look somewhat askance at people who put themselves in this position of being honored or being a guest of honor at organizational dinners. In fact, I made up my mind a long time ago that if by chance someday some organization would ask us to place ourselves in that position we would insistently and adamantly refuse. And that’s not just me—my wife sees it the same way. That doesn’t say much about having personal policies and not breaking self-imposed rules.
If you read these pages with any regularity then you saw our photo—that is my wife Esta and me as one of the couples that will be, okay, let’s call it honored at the forthcoming 18th annual dinner of Chabad of the 5 Towns. Well, that all seems good and nice and even sweet, but what now?
All I can say is that I hope this next statement is true. And that is that there isn’t any other circumstance or persons that I would accede to such a request for except for Rebbitzen Chanie and Rav Zalman Wolowik. While it is so that the shul is about a mile and a half from where I live and I rarely attend services there, the fact is that all that the Wolowiks stand for represent and dedicate every waking hour to, is a credo and belief system that is part of my DNA too. And you cannot deny or wiggle your way out of DNA. In other words, perhaps you can run but you cannot hide.
I’m sure you will agree that Chabad has evolved as one of the premier global movements in the world today. Its reach extends effectively into its own backyard as it does in the far reaches of the world and that is interestingly far beyond the confines of the Jewish world. So, I suppose, in a sense, when you attach your name to anything that is associated with Chabad—locally or internationally—-you are assisting them and perhaps even yourself becoming a part of the global impact they continue to have on so many every day.
My connection goes back to the day I was born and my life as a kid and young adult in Crown Heights. As the years went by a many Jewish families began to pack up and emigrate from Crown Heights the Lubavitch or Chabad families stayed behind. Up until the year that I married and moved out, the fact of Chabad was not just about everywhere I turned but as just as available to me as the air that I would breathe. Looking back I guess I can say that the Chabad community, the person of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the oxygen in the air were all things that I just took for granted.
Somewhere in the recessives of my mind I knew and was aware that there were Chabad rabbi’s and indeed families in faraway places doing wonderful and even miraculous things, But I think I just took those things for granted or perhaps did not possess the right intellectual equipment to appreciate what was going on around me.
I was a kid who would play with my friends on Shabbos afternoon on Kingston Avenue. We would be running around and I can recall at least one instance when we spotted The Rebbe walking down Kingston Avenue on one of those Shabbos afternoons. I remember relating to my father that, you know, I saw the Rebbe walking down Kingston Avenue today all by himself. My father explained to me that the Rebbe was most likely going to visit his mother who lived nearby. But it was puzzling to a kid. What? The Rebbe? Visiting his mother? He has a mother? And so on.
Then people I grew up with, mostly cousins and other extended family members—were getting married and then suddenly they were being dispatched to far way places that I could not fathom to start life all over again by being an emissary or shliach of the Rebbe. One moved to Johannesburg, South Africa, another to Melbourne, Australia, London, New Orleans, Louisiana, Los Angeles, California and numerous other venues around the globe. The news was interesting and nice as well as even exotic but really had nothing to do with me.