The Spanish Fireman Who Joined Us This Succot

The Spanish Fireman Who Joined Us This Succot

On Shabbat Succot we hosted an unusual crowd–a Catholic Spanish fireman, his Russian-Orthodox girlfriend, and 2 evangelical Germans.
If you’re wondering how this exotic assortment of people ended up in the Weisberg Succah, please let me explain.
The Spanish fireman came to us through my husband’s new business hosting tourist groups for a home-cooked meal and answering their deepest, darkest questions about Judaism and Israel.
And the evangelical Germans? That’s a bit of a longer story.
One of my favorite Succot events is the Jerusalem March, a parade in which thousands of Christian tourists from around the world participate every Succot in order to express their love for Israel and the Jewish people.
And during the parade, among those thousands of marchers, one woman drew my attention. For some strange reason, when I saw her face I thought, “She looks like a nice person. I like her.”
And that woman walked past me. And then she walked back to me. And, out of all the thousands of people lining the parade route, she chose to approach ME and ask, “Do you like the color red?”
“Yes, I do.”
And then, as she opened the various zippers of her purse, feeling around in search of something, she explained, “You see, I’m a seamstress. And before I came here, I made 2 pairs of gloves to give away to Jewish people. And I would like to give a pair to you.”
And then she took out two pairs of gloves, one red, one green.
And I chose the green. And invited her for Shabbat.
She was extremely excited to be invited. To have the opportunity to see an actual Jewish Shabbat. And asked if she could bring a friend…
So, that’s how we ended up on Shabbat Succot with a Catholic Spanish fireman, his Russian-Orthodox girlfriend and 2 evangelical Germans at our table.
And what happened over the course of that meal was one of my deepest experiences from this Tishrei.
Rodrigo, the Spanish fireman, told us how he was loving Israel. Especially Jerusalem. He loved “being in a place where religion is people’s #1 priority.”
And then he started speaking about his work as a fireman. How it causes him to think constantly about the fragility of life. How we think we are safe, in our strong, sturdy homes. But more times than he would like to remember, he has witnessed how from one moment to the next, a house can go up in flames, and life can come to a sudden, unexpected end.
And I told him, as goosebumps popped up all over my arms, that what he had just said was the exact message of the holiday we were celebrating. On Succot we leave our homes behind and remember that really, even in our solid, sturdy homes and our solid, sturdy lives, we are so fragile.
After that, Monica, the woman from the parade, started telling us about her unusual family. She and her husband are Christians who are committed to exploring Christianity’s Jewish roots. They commemorate Shabbat. They study Hebrew. They gave their daughters only Jewish names. Monica has visited Israel over 15 times, and when her whole family comes to Israel, they perform Jewish songs for groups of Holocaust survivors.
When I asked Monica what sparked her deep connection with Jews, she told me with great emotion, “When I came to Israel the first time in 1994, I fell in love with the Jewish people. I can’t explain it. I just did! And I love Israel. And Judaism. When I come here, I see the fulfillment of the prophets’ prophecies. The Jewish people back in the Land of Israel!”
And for the second time that night, the goosebumps were back on my arms. I feel that same way about being Jewish, and living a Jewish life in Israel. But to hear a non-Jewish German woman saying what I believe with all my heart, it was so incredibly moving.
And I felt like those 2 goosebump raising moments went together.
The fireman had said, life is fragile, scary. We never know what life holds in store around the corner.
And Monica’s assurance, in response: God loves the Jewish people! Keep His commandments. Learn His Torah. Keep Him in your heart. And know that your life is in His devoted, loving hands alone.

2 comments

  1. What a great experience. I just checked out Rabbi Josh website! Looks amazing! It should be with a lot of hatlacha!!

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