With the pandemic not allowing for Merkos Shlichus bochurim to visit remote Jewish communities and individuals this summer, community news service COLlive.com launches a new series of interviews with Chassidim who share memories of their own visits in past years.
The second interviewee is Shmuly Butler, a bochur from Crown Heights:
Yud Gimmel Tammuz 5778 (2018) was Primary Election Day in Utah. I and Mendel Mintz were sent on Merkos Shlichus to S. George, Utah as a preparation for the coming of the new Shliach Rabbi Mendy and Chaya Cohen, scheduled to move to town. We went door to door searching for Yidden, but after a few hours, the 104-degree weather became unbearable.
We decided to visit the indoor voting polls and try our luck there. While it wasn’t 104 degrees at the voting polls, we weren’t successful in finding Yidden there either. We began chatting with a couple who was Mormon and was curious about Yiddishkeit. When we asked if they have any Jewish friends around town, the couple remembered an older single woman named Shoshana, who is Jewish.
Overjoyed, we went back to our hotel room and began sleuthing to track down this Shoshana. After about 30 minutes of searching, we found an address located just a few minutes’ drive away and went over.
After ringing the bell, a woman opened the door, but almost immediately shut it again without speaking with us.
We figured that she must have felt uncomfortable, and therefore thought of trying to visit her again in a few days.
The next morning, our phone rang. It was a woman and she said her name was Shoshana. We were shocked as to how she tracked us down since we didn’t even leave a number.
Turns out that Shoshana did some online research and found Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad of Salt Lake City – five hours away, who in turn passed on the bochurim’s contact info. A meeting was set for 4:30 PM.
As we walked into her home, Shoshana announced happily, “I must really thank my cousins for sending you here.”
We looked at each other in confusion.
“You see,” Shoshana explained, “I have religious cousins who reside in Bnei Brak, and are strong followers of the Chazon Ish. Two weeks ago, I mentioned to them how lonely I felt in Utah. I asked them to reach out to Chabad Shluchim, to see if they can help my spiritual situation.
“I didn’t realize how fast you’d come,” Shoshana concluded, “Thank you!”
We realized the amazing Hashgacha Pratis that had transpired, as soon as a Yid was in search of the Rebbe’s Shluchim, we miraculously found our way to her.
Immediately, we offered to place a Mezuzah on her door, and ‘farbrenged’ with her for over an hour. Before leaving, we gave Shoshana the new Shliach’s business card, and then parted ways.
Throughout the next few months, Shoshana maintained a relationship with the new Shluchim to S. George by attending services on Yom Tov and different occasions, as well as doing various art projects for Chabad.
This past year of 5779 (2019) on Shabbos, Chof Hei Cheshvan, during the Kinus Hashluchim, Shoshana passed away in her sleep.
Upon learning that her relatives planned on cremating Shoshana, Rabbi Cohen didn’t waste any time. Together with the unbelievable help of attorney Mendy Mayberg from Florida, they invested countless hours and managed to organize that Kevuras Yisroel should be performed. The Levaya took place Thursday afternoon, Zayin Kislev.
In order to ensure a Minyan, a group of Shluchim traveled from Las Vegas and were present at the Levaya.
Perhaps it is in the Zechus of Shoshana just asking her Litvishe relatives to reach out to the Rebbe’s Shluchim, that she merited a Kevuras Yisroel.
Have an interesting Merkos Shlichus story or encounter to share? Email us at [email protected]