David Himber, a resident of Sea Gate in Brooklyn, is the past president of Chai Riders, a Jewish motorcycle club.
He was interviewed in May 2014 about his encounter with the Rebbe by JEM’s Here’s My Story:
I grew up in Brooklyn, in a Modern Orthodox family – though the term did not exist in those days. We were Torah observant, and I got a religious education from grade school through high school.
My parents operated a grocery on Albany Avenue near Lefferts Avenue it was suggested that I take a job as a waiter in Camp Gan Israel, which was the Lubavitcher kids’ camp.
It was in the late 1950s I think, or maybe the early 1960s. My job, as one of twenty or twenty-five waiters was to set up the tables and serve the food.
All the waiters lived under the dining room, where there was one huge room set up with bunk-beds for us. Now imagine what that room looked like after a couple of days. To be polite, we weren’t the neatest human beings in the world… Although the camp authorities did come down once in a while and try to make us clean up, the place was a real mess.
Then, all of a sudden – it was in July or August – word came down the grapevine that the Rebbe was coming to visit the camp. Now, with all due respect, at that point I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded to me like someone important was coming to inspect the operation.
All of a sudden, painters showed up, and cleaners showed up, and handymen showed up – everyone was very busy fixing up the camp in advance of the Rebbe’s visit.
I remember someone coming down and banging nails into the wall of the waiters’ room, so that we could hang up our Shabbos suits and our Shabbos shirts because, until then, they were either on the floor or in our suitcases. And I must say, the waiters’ bunk really shaped up rather nicely.
The big day arrived.
When the Rebbe came through, we were all standing by our beds, kind of like at attention, while he conducted his inspection. He looked around, and I heard him say, “Why don’t these boys have closets?”
And this part amazes me to this day – that he cared about closets for the waiters!
He continued his tour of the camp, asking questions like, “Where is the basketball court?” Or, “Where are the lights for the playground?” Half a century later when I remember this, I am amazed all over again.
A few days later, closets appeared, and bulldozers appeared and steamrollers appeared to build a basketball court, and lights went up. It was like magic.
That was my first encounter with the Rebbe. I realized that I had been in the presence of a very special person, and I was in awe.
Since then, I have attended the Rebbe’s farbrengens. I really didn’t understand everything that the Rebbe said when he delivered his teachings, but it always sounded meaningful to me.
The Rebbe came to mean something special to me. For example, I worked at Yeshiva University for 18 years as a counselor, and I kept a little picture of the Rebbe where I could see it, though not necessarily where anybody else could see it. It just gave me strength to have it there.
Today, I am a member of the Jewish Motorcycle Club. I have a little picture of the Rebbe taped to the windshield of my motorcycle, so when I am riding, I see him.
Two decades after his passing from this world, the Rebbe continues to inspire me. I’ve gone through ups and downs in life, but it is the Rebbe’s inspiration that has kept me on the right path. And, to this day, he continues to fill me with a love for Yiddishkeit and love for the Jewish people.
Download the full story here (PDF)