I’m One of Them!
By Alizah Teitelbaum
My family was falling apart. We had one kid in the Far East, and one in America, one on a farm and one in the high-tech center, one in Jerusalem and one in Beer Sheva. We hardly saw each other. We got too busy and too far away; we had no time and no space for each other.
I needed a quick fix or the peace and friendship back in Alligerville would be gone. I needed a miracle, a big one, and that meant the special type of personal prayer that moves mountains: the six-hour personal prayer (In Forest Fields, p. 319).
So, remember this was Yom Kippur, a great day for the six-hour fix. I would have nothing to distract me since I couldn’t eat, cook, work, or take a bath. And I said oh G-d, you can’t want to break us apart. Poor G-d! Your House is burnt and broken. We felt so bad for each other and prayed for the same kind of things all day, and straight away, after Yom Kippur, bunches of family members showed up for Shabbat at our home in the Negev and we didn’t argue even once.
That was a miracle. But hang on a minute! Speaking of peace and family reunions, wild things happened right after Yom Kippur: I got a mysterious email from a rebbetzin in Toronto, Canada: her grandparents came from the same Ukrainian town as mine, and her mother had the same first and last name as my mother (may she rest in peace). Then she explained things that had puzzled me since childhood. To illustrate:
Well, that explained why I felt drawn to Breslevers.
Another puzzle: Two grandparents from each side of my family, in two separate towns, decided to marry the brothers or sisters of their brother or sister-in-law, against the rabbi’s advice, and both times one of them was killed.
I asked, why? What was the halacha? Every rabbi I asked didn’t know.
Right after Yom Kippur, along came my rebbetzin-cousin. She said the advice came from Sefer ha Chasidim, and it's not a halacha.
Then my cousin asked: how did you know that favorite saying of the Sokolifkeniks?
Huh? What favorite saying?
This: What was a Jew anyway? Something the Cossacks killed in Sokolivka.
That blew my mind; I thought I had made it up myself for a Breslev article, and here the Sokolifkans have been saying it for a hundred years. Knowing this, I thought, I’m one of them! It’s like the ugly duckling became a swan.
Now I want to know why, after Yom Kippur, I got this email about a lady with the same name as my mother a”h?
I don’t know, kids, but it brought tears to my face, because I just finished talking 6 hours with G-d about finding my family.
Alizah Teitelbaum has been an actress, an assistant editor at Random House, and a columnist at the Jewish Times of Johannesburg. Her stories have appeared in Ami, Mishpacha, The Jewish Press, and other places. She edits fiction and poetry for https://sassonmag.com/ blogs at http://alizahteitelbaum.weebly.com/blog . Alizah is writing a graphic novel for kids and lives in the Negev Desert. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org