By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive and Hasidic Archives
Fraida Jacobson was expecting her third child when she and her husband, Simon Jacobson, fled the Soviet Union in 1947. Simon had been tortured by Communist agents and exiled to Siberia for his work in Chabad’s system of underground schools.
To their great joy, their son Sholom was born in freedom in a displaced persons (DP) camp in Germany. The family later moved to France and, in 1952, to Toronto, Canada. Tragically, not long after, Simon passed away due to complications from the torture in Soviet prison. Fraida died a year later, leaving Sholom, seven, and his two brothers orphans.
Sholom joined his two brothers in New York, where he studied at the Chabad day school and lived with a local family. There he grew into a studious scholar, eventually joining a group of students who prepared the Rebbe’s talks for publication.
In 1972, he became engaged to Faigel Springer. The wedding was to be celebrated in Israel, but as preparations moved forward, Sholom couldn’t help being keenly aware of his parents’ absence. After all, he would be standing under the wedding canopy alone.
The Rebbe understood Sholom’s feelings, and, in appreciation for his work publishing the talks, took it upon himself to ease the pain, if only slightly. He asked one of Sholom’s colleagues to travel to the wedding at his (the Rebbe’s) expense. “Go into the office, and they will pay for the cost of the ticket.”
The Rebbe also arranged for a respected Chabad disciple who was involved in publishing the Rebbe’s talks in Israel to attend the wedding. Since Sholom and the disciple both worked in the same field, the Rebbe said, “This joyous occasion is his.” The elderly man attended the wedding from beginning to end, dancing as if the groom were his own son.
In addition, the Rebbe asked Chabad in Israel to organize a surprise feast in the new couple’s honor.
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