Letter: Outreach turns strangers into family

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Editor of the Reformer,

This past Saturday, Nov. 24, during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, my family, which has a residence in Wilmington, Vt., and lives permanently in Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, D.C., celebrated the 32nd anniversary of my bar mitzvah at the Chabad of Southern Vermont in Brattleboro. Every single year since my bar mitzvah, no matter where we have been in the U.S. or around the world, I have marked this anniversary by leading synagogue services and reading the Torah (Pentateuch). In order to conduct this service, we needed 10 adults to attend and make a "Minyan."

So starting three weeks ago, within days of the tragic synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, my family reached out to the Chabad rabbi in Brattleboro and together we contacted locals of the Jewish faith to ask if they would attend synagogue in Brattleboro. And, lo and behold, on the appointed Sabbath Thanksgiving, more than 20 people celebrated my bar mitzvah anniversary at the first Sabbath morning services ever held at this Chabad, with a beautiful newly-refurbished Torah on-loan from a synagogue in Brooklyn, N.Y.

What a treasure to find generous people of similar faiths - whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or others - who were willing to donate their time and fellowship to strangers and, thereby, to turn strangers into extended family. Thanks to Chabad and the Jews of Southern Vermont for enabling my family and me to celebrate an important religious anniversary with you.

Sincerely yours,

Aaron Mendelsohn

New York, N.Y., Nov. 25



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