By COLlive reporter
Last Thursday night, under a starry, moonlit sky, a reunion 20 years in the making came full circle.
19 years ago, Rabbi Eli Blokh arrived in Rego Park in Queens, NY, as its Chabad Shliach and was asked to conduct weekly Friday night services at an adult day care facility catering to Russian-speaking Jews.
One of the residents there who regularly agreed to put on Tefillin was a man named Yacov Agroskin. The two become close over the years.
Agroskin introduced his daughter and son-in-law, Victor and Nina (Nechama) Gaitshkhoki to the rabbi, and they began attending High Holiday services. When their son Ilya reached the age of 13, Rabbi Blokh taught him.
Intrigued by the unusual-sounding last name, Rabbi Blokh realized that if the ‘G’ in the last name was substituted for an H (the soft letter H doesn’t have an equivalent in the Russian alphabet) the last name is actually Hayitzchoki.
Hayitzchoki is the last name of the legendary Mashpia, Reb Zalman Moshe Hayitzchoki from the town of Nevel.
After some research, it turned out that Gaitshkhoki’s father Boris has the Jewish name of DovBer and was in his mid 90’s living in a nursing home in Brighton Beach. He told them that he is the son of Dovid Hayitzchoki, brother of Reb Zalman Moshe.
For many years, Rabbi Blokh gently encouraged Victor and his legally married wife Nina to have a Jewish wedding. This year, on Yom Kippur, Nina said, “yes! we’re ready.”
Rabbi Blokh reached out to a close friend and Shliach in Kings Highway, Rabbi Zalman Moshe Drizin, a fellow descendant of the Hayitzchoki family, to invite other members of the family to participate in this beautiful celebration.
Last Thursday night, Victor and Nechama (Agroskin) Hayitzchoki got married according to Jewish law on the porch of the Chabad of Rego Park in the presence of their second cousins and members of the Drizin family, including Rabbi Moshe Rubin, chronicler of the Drizin family, as well as members of Chabad of Rego Park.
The couple was led to the Chupa by Rabbi Chaim Drizin of Crown Heights and Rabbi Yossi Mendelson, Rabbi of Congregation Machane Chodosh and Shliach in the neighborhood.
Rabbi Zalman Moshe Drizin shared the incredible story of the original Rabbi Yitzchok, father of Rashi and his tremendous act of self sacrifice.