Rabbi's Message - December 21, 2012

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger or Not!

A compelling and 'must read' story of one woman’s miracle in Naples.

No matter what happens in my life, I always believe in the magic of miracles with the innocence of a little girl I once was in the land far away and long ago. Perhaps, that is why miracles happen to me all the time. And this is a story of the latest one, which many witnessed.

On a recent Saturday morning I went for an early swim.  It was the Thanksgiving weekend, yet I was alone.  I reflected quietly upon the unsettling events of the week before – the hurricane Sandy NYC Zone A ground reports from my mother, the bombings in Israel my family was caught in, the amazing trip to Helsinki my husband had to go on without me… I felt a powerful desire to be with people who’d welcome me as their own, so I got out of the pool and made it to the 11AM Chabad service with no time to spare on hellos.

By now, Rabbi Zaklos’ ability to recite names is legendary and he usually names everyone present at the services with sincere and emotional gratitude. It was during that soliloquy that I heard the uncommon name “Igor” and instantly knew what that means - there are compatriots here, whom I have not yet met. A compatriot to me is a person born in the USSR. Our very names usually reveal us to each other. What sane American parent would name their son Igor?!

When I saw Igor a few minutes after services – his face looked – well it looked the same way any of the faces of any ex-Soviet citizens look when we are introduced – do I know you?! The unspoken question is what that look conveys. And the answer was “no” – I did not know Igor and he did not know me. Our faces “rang no bells” to either of us. We sat at the table with a couple other ex-Soviets and after a while I heard Igor mention he was from Kiev, just like me. We started figuring out where each of us lived in Kiev, and, to our mutual surprise, here is what we had in common: we went to the same school, were in the same graduating class, we shared the same teachers and even the same friends. And later, after we reminisced some more and Igor told his mom about it, we even figured out that we grew up in the same apartment building, our grandmothers knew each other, he came to my 5th birthday and brought me a toy bunny, which I remember to this day.

What are the chances of two people from Kiev USSR reconnecting in Naples Florida? Some nay-sayers will say it’s a fluke coincidence. But a true believer will call it a miracle.

So, all of you former boys and girls from wherever you came into Naples Fl  – keep your eyes and ears open and go where you can meet other people – you, too, can meet a tall, dark stranger or not


by Marina Berkovich


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