By Menachem Levy
An extraordinary set of events brought together businessmen, Shluchim and local Jews for an inspiring Shabbos on the remote Pacific island of Bora Bora.
Business partners and philanthropists Dudi Farkash and Barry Rosinger were recently invited to an exclusive retreat by their company to take place on the remote island of Bora Bora. Although initially hesitant to join the retreat because of kashrus concerns and a lack of minyan, they agreed to go after the company assured them that kosher food would be provided and that there would be other Jewish people on the retreat who could be included in the minyan.
As the date of the trip approached, it became clear that there would likely not be a minyan. Faced with this unhappy prospect, Rosinger suggested that they fly to a nearby island for Shabbos where they knew there would be a minyan.
As Farkash arrived at the Motu Mute Airport Airport in Bora Bora, he was delighted to meet the Shliach to New Zealand, Rabbi Mendel Hecht, who had come to the island to kasher the kitchen for the very retreat that Farkash was there to attend. After exchanging some pleasantries, Farkash raised the issue of a minyan. Hearing this, Hecht promised to help by sending a Sefer Torah and some local Jews to join them for Shabbos on the island.
Although well-intentioned, Hecht’s suggestion turned out to be untenable. With New Zealand being on the other side of the dateline, there was simply not enough time to get all the paperwork and flights together to get the people from New Zealand there in time for Shabbos.
The next logical step was to turn their attention to Los Angeles on the other end of the Pacific where Farkash’s brother was able to arrange a group to join them. They brought along with them a small Sefer Torah from the minyan of Rabbi Yitzi Horowitz, an inspirational Chabad Shliach who was sadly stricken with ALS a number of years ago.
As this was going on, Farkash received a text message from Rabbi Michoel Goldman, a Shliach in Hawaii and the founder of the Chayenu project, an initiative that Farkash proudly supports. Goldman had recently arranged with a local Jew in Bora Bora named Eli Sabag to print a Tanya on the island. The copies were bound in Hawaii and Goldman had sent the Tanyas with the mashgiach who was overseeing the kosher food on the retreat. When Goldman asked if he could pick them up, Farkash was only too happy to oblige.
All the pieces of this incredible hashgocho protis came together to make for an uplifting Shabbos, the first time ever that a minyan with a Sefer Torah happened on the Island. The new Tanyas were learned from and everyone involved felt that this whole experience was orchestrated to uplift the island through Torah and Mitzvos.
On Sunday, the group got together for minyan again and the mitzvos kept flowing when a hotel employee who turned out to be Jewish agreed to put on tefillin!
Farkash, who has sponsored the hayom yom section of the Chayenu since its launch, saw a special connection between their experience and the hayom yom of that Shabbos. There, in the hayom yom for the 8th of Iyar, the Rebbe describes how when a Shliach does his mission properly, he is connected to his Rebbe wherever he goes.
“The Rebbe constantly stressed that when a person comes to a place he needs to see how he can positively affect it,” said Farkash. “My partner, Barry Rosinger, correctly pushed us to make a minyan happen and that set in motion an amazing sequence of events that included people from across the world, from New Zealand to Hawaii. That kind of determination to do a mitzva is something we can all learn from.”