By Rachel Levy Lesser
On Dec. 2, 350 people came to The Lubavitch Center of Bucks County in Newtown to listen to renowned author and sports writer Mitch Albom talk about his new book, “Have A Little Faith.”
The event was one of many for The Jewish Learning Academy, a non-member organization where students are “taught about faith and not about religion,” according to Rabbi Ayreh Weinstein, who has been teaching adult education classes at the Bucks County Lubavitch Center for the last 10 years.
When the Jewish Learning Academy heard that Mitch Albom was embarking on a book tour on the topic of faith, they partnered up with Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley and The American Jewish Committee to bring Albom to Newtown.
Albom explained how the book came to be: He said he never intended to write about faith. In fact, Albom said he became apathetic to religion in his young adult life. Busy with his thriving career, Albom assumed “I’ll go my way and God can go his way.”
This all changed 10 years ago when Albom spoke at his childhood synagogue in New Jersey. At the end of the speech, the synagogue’s long-time Rabbi, Albert Lewis, whom Albom revered as a child, made a surprising request to Albom.
“Will you do my eulogy?” asked the then 82-year-old Lewis. Albom did not want to let Lewis down, and so he agreed. But, as he explained to the Rabbi, “I need to get to know you as a human being.”
Thus began an eight-year relationship of weekly visits to the “Reb’s” house — a name given to Lewis by a young Albom — the same child who ran the other way when he heard the Reb in the hallways of the synagogue.
Years later, Albom found himself running towards the same man. Throughout their countless visits, Albom and Lewis discussed their beliefs in God, faith, marriage, happiness and more.
One of the many poignant lessons Albom took away from their meetings was the Reb’s belief in the secret of happiness.
“Be satisfied, be grateful for all that you have and for all that God has given you.” To this day, recounted Albom, “I can’t crack a hole in that one.”
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