Jan 12, 2018
What Drew the Reluctant Teenager

Motzoei Shabbos Story: A Jewish teenager in Massachusetts refused anything Jewish until a Rosh Yeshiva from Brooklyn called...

By Dovid Zaklikowski for COLlive.com and Hasidic Archives

Every Friday afternoon, Rabbi Chaim Meir Bukiet, Rosh Yeshiva of the Central United Lubavitch Yeshiva in Brooklyn, NY, would go from store to store on one of the busiest streets in East Flatbush, offering to put on tefillin with the owners and their employees.

With his keen understanding of human nature, he spoke to people's hearts, encouraging them in their Jewish observance and forging lifelong relationships.

Rabbi Bukiet's daughter Ruchie Stillman and her husband, Rabbi Yerachmiel Stillman, were Chabad representatives at UCLA, along with the dynamic Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz "Schwartzie" and his wife Alta Shula.

They sent many students to visit Crown Heights, where they inevitably made their way to the Bukiet home in East Flatbush. Rabbi Bukiet always took an interest in the students' lives and was able to talk to them about Judaism in a way they could understand and relate to.

Inspired by their parents' open home and care for other Jews, the Bukiet children took leadership positions as Chabad emissaries and teachers around the country. Rabbi Bukiet would regularly travel to visit them in places like Boca Raton, Florida and Lexington, Massachusetts.

For most of the last decade of his life, he spent every Chanukah and Purim in Lexington, where he would dance with the crowd and speak words of Torah in his unique style.

A couple who were Chabad House regulars in Lexington had a teenage son Mark who was not interested in anything Jewish. Despite their entreaties, he refused to attend classes or events with his parents. At one event, the elder Rabbi Bukiet approached the woman and asked where her son was. She replied that he was not interested in coming. Rabbi Bukiet asked if he could speak with him. "It's a waste of time," she said. "Your son tried all day to get him to come here."

Undaunted, Rabbi Bukiet asked for their number and called. Mark answered and after a few minutes of back and forth, he agreed to show up, out of respect for the elderly man. From the minute the young man entered the room until the end of the party, Rabbi Bukiet danced with him, and danced with him, and danced with him.

The love entered his heart, and Mark began coming to Chabad events and Torah classes. Eventually, attended the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, NJ.

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Opinions and Comments

A remarkable story a remarkable man.He always spoke perfect Yinglish!!!!!!
(1/13/2018 11:13:31 AM)
Rabbi CM Bukiet Was An Icon In Chabad
He left Many Many Talmidim Of Generations. In the way of Torah & Motzvos
(1/13/2018 5:32:54 PM)
Amazing story
Lev Margeesh Lev. A heart ...feels a heart that feels. Beautiful story.
(1/13/2018 6:38:06 PM)
His Yortzait Tonight, Motzai Shabbos.
(1/13/2018 9:21:57 PM)
a good heart
a very special person
(1/13/2018 10:57:54 PM)
A Big Heart
I had the privilege to know Rabbi Bukiet as a student and a friend of the family. Rabbi Bukiet was not only a big talmid chacham, he cared about people and had a big heart. Many people looked up to him and supported his efforts as he maintained a shul in East Flatbush with great mesiras nefesh.
Tonight, 27 Teves, is his 20th yahrzeit.
(1/13/2018 11:07:45 PM)
He was a sweet man. I used to go to his shul in East Flatbush on shabbos. It was a special experience. When you stepped into his Shul it was like a time machine transporting you back to a different era. Rabbi Bukiet himself would make us a chulent an kugel every week.If I am not mistaken Lubabavitcher yeshiva in America was founded in his Shul. He was a good man his children and grandchildren prove it over and over.
(1/14/2018 5:21:39 AM)
Rabbi Bukiet
he never gave up on me. his kindness tho myself helped me tho remain frum today
(1/14/2018 8:21:25 AM)
When you think of Rabbi Bukiet, you think of a man who cared deeply about his students wellbeing. He had to deal with students who were complicated, and had very difficult childhoods. He had to navigate situations of extreme and convoluted accusations and conspiracy theories of a generation of Holocaust survivors and their children. It is he who nevertheless tried his best to keep these students in the school, unless they were detrimental to the fabric of Yiddishkeit. Many owe their lives to his patience and kindness.
(1/14/2018 9:49:32 AM)
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