“It was erev Pesach morning and I received a phone call from an eleven year old Russian boy who also lived in Akron, Ohio near me.
His name was Alex and he had a brit milah (circumcision) a few months earlier, along with twenty plus other men and boys, under the direction of Rebbetzin Shula Kazen, Dr. Henry Romberg, a professional Mohel (professional person who performs a circumcision) from Cleveland, Ohio and Rabbi Danny Rotenberg (before he left Akron). At that time, I offered to get Alex a gift. He assured me that the gift he would like – is a kosher home, and he would call me when he was ready for it. I told him, I would be happy to oblige!
So Alex called me to remind me of the gift I promised him because of his brit milah – to make his home kosher. He decided to call me at 6:30 am, on the morning before Pesach and asked me if I could come over to make his home kosher.
Oy….Of all days……This is the day he chose. At the time, I had four little children running around, an eighty five year old guest from Israel who only spoke Yiddish (it was only a secret language between my parents and I never learned it), piled up laundry, food to cut, chop, press, smash, squeeze, cook and prepare and Alex on the phone. What shall I do with this request? I told Alex I would call him right back, and he reminded me that I did promise him!
So whom do I call?????? Why Rebbetzin Kazen, of course. What should I do? I don’t have a dime left to my name and I definitely need guidance on this one. I explained the situation to her, and she remembered Alex from the brit milah and all she said was, “Miriam (with a Russian twist), just DO IT!” That was the answer. All you can say is OK.
Hmmmm. I called Alex and said I’ll do what I can. He was over-the-top happy. I got into my car with no purse, no wallet, no checkbook, no credit card (didn’t even exist then), no money; just my driver’s license on the passenger seat and car keys. I told the car to take me where I should go – see, I’m talking to cars now. I’m on a mission, because Rebbetzin Kazen said to do it, and all I have is my license and more faith than all the matzahs in the world can provide.
My first stop was to “Lou & Hy’s” delicatessen that carried a few shelves of Passover products – you know, the borscht, gefilte fish in jars, matzahs, etc. You get the picture. I asked if I can open a charge account on behalf of a Russian family and get a few items to take with me. They gladly signed me up. I left with bags of items that went into the car. As I was loading the bags, I saw the Orthodox Rabbi, Rabbi Leibtag, who was getting ready to leave and stopped him. I told him that a Russian boy wanted to be kosher for Pesach and the Rabbi said he just came from another Russian home and helped them with Pesach. “So can you help with this family too, Rabbi?” He said “Sure!”. The Rabbi told me to buy whatever I needed for the family and charge it to the shul. What????? Can this be true? So he wrote a “Letter of Introduction” for me on one of his cardboard shirt boards from the dry cleaners, and signed his name with the name of shul, address and his phone number. The Rabbi also gave me some stores to shop in owned by some of his congregants and gave me their names and addresses. Really!?
Next stop was the Home Economics store – showed them the cardboard “Letter of Introduction” and with absolutely no problem, they helped me pick out pots and pans, dishes, silverware, glasses and cups, a multitude of kitchen equipment, foil, etc. Now all of this went into my car.
Now they needed produce and chicken. Only at the retail grocery store can this be found. No charging or deals at this place. My faith is still in full gear, great track record so far. I know that there will be a solution soon. As I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store, I saw a car trunk open and I recognized the Rabbi’s wife. I ran over to her and told her the story and showed her the cardboard shirt board “Letter of Introduction”. She happily reached into her purse and gave me cash to purchase kosher chicken and produce. Can you believe this????
Now there is no room in the car for even air to find a home. Every bit of space is taken. So I quickly go to Alex’s home and he ran out to greet me. I told him I have a couple of things for him. Even though everything in the car was for them, except my driver’s license, I didn’t want to overwhelm them. I personally was already in shock. I said take this bag over here and that box over there. Then the father came out with another son. I gave them a bag over here and a box over there to take in too. Then the sister, mom and aunt came out and took this bag and that bag. Soon the entire car was empty.
I went into their home and everyone was crying. In the true spirit of Rebbetzin Kazen, I yelled out “there’s no time to cry, everybody get busy” and gave them each a job. The father signed the selling of his chometz and took it over to Rabbi Leibtag. I told Alex to look around the house for crumbs with his “kit” even though it was daylight, we burnt what we could, we foiled the entire kitchen and worked so fast, torched the oven and kashered and covered burners – oh my! Everyone was totally busy. I told them no bread, no cookies, no meat/milk together and the mini lesson on kashrus was understood the best they could.
That afternoon, two of the women came to my home to help to clean, iron, cut and slice. It was an absolute miracle. Then that night, they all came to our Seder – which we had in four languages. The Yiddish lady guest, Russian guests, English and Hebrew with our kids. It was an amazing day, an amazing Seder and an outright miracle from start to finish.
I called Rebbetzin Kazen and reported that it was done and told her the story. She was happy and not really surprised.
Lesson: If one really paid attention to Rebbetzin Kazen, she was able to touch a part of us that was totally asleep. I surprised myself not knowing that I had abilities and the tools that were already inside of me to work with this miracle waiting to happen. I was just as surprised as everyone else. I had a car, I had a driver’s license, I had an order “Do It”, and I had faith. Wow. There are so many more stories, so many more miracles, so many more resources I had inside of me that I never knew existed except for the opportunities and challenges that made them come alive. My sincere thanks to Rebbetzin Kazen for these experiences. You will always and forever be my “spiritual” mom.”