Four Yeshiva students were in the middle of nowhere on a long car ride back to Yeshiva when their car broke down. This might sound like the beginning of a joke, but it happened just last week, and I was one of those four students.
We were heading back to our Yeshiva in New Jersey from Toronto after attending a fellow student’s wedding. We left the Toronto area on late Sunday morning and began the estimated 8-9 hour drive. A couple hours into the drive we decided to stop at Niagara Falls; an amazing experience in itself. However, after a short visit we headed back on the road, this time starting in upstate New York. A few hours back into the ride we heard weird sounds coming from the car and could feel there was a problem so we pulled over to the side of the highway. We got out of the car and saw one of the tires had somehow become completely flat and was broken. We did not know much about how to switch tires, but we got the temporary tire from the trunk and began attempting to put it on the car so we could at least drive until we found an auto repair shop. We had some difficulty getting the new tire on the car, and it being less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 Celsius) while having piles of snow surrounding us only made it tougher. Thankfully, a police officer eventually pulled over and offered some help. For the hundreds of cars that passed us, it must have been quite an interesting sight to see four Yeshiva students with their suitcases next to a car on the side of the highway getting help from a police officer in below freezing temperatures.
After at least 45 minutes since pulling over, we were able to get the replacement tire on the car and start heading for a repair shop. However, we were practically in the middle of nowhere. It was also getting dark and it was late on a Sunday, meaning there were not many options. After a few tries, we could not find a repair shop that was open that we could buy a tire from and have installed for us. We were hundreds of miles from Yeshiva and there was no way we would make it back on the temporary tire, so we began to realize we were going to have to find a place to stay. After we looked up where the closest major city was (it was Rochester), we thought about where we would be able to stay that night. So one of us called up a local Chabad Rabbi and asked if he could host us. Unbelievably he said yes right away and we immediately headed there.
Once we arrived in Rochester, the rabbi greeted us and showed us where we were staying, which was even nicer accommodations than our Yeshiva. He then made us a very elegant dinner and feel like we were at home. In the morning he recommended us a synagogue to go to for services and made us an amazing breakfast. Afterwards, he let us hang out and learn in the Chabad house until our car was fixed and ready to go. On top of all this his wife was out of town and he was also taking care of his children. And not once did he ask for any payment or anything at all from us. We could have stayed at a hotel and spending amounts of money which most of us don’t have to spare since we are currently students, but we knew there was a good chance a local Chabad rabbi would be willing to host us.
Why would this rabbi be willing to host four strangers with no notice? Because thats what Chabad is all about. I am not saying that Chabad is meant to be a hotel in every city. I am talking about the fact the Chabad stresses ‘Love of a fellow Jew’ so much that most rabbis throughout the world are willing to host four Yeshiva students, who are already observant, and are not rich potential donors.
We thankfully made it back to our Yeshiva 32 hours after leaving Toronto. Even though it snowed and was close to 0 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time we were in Rochester, we still had a great time and deeply appreciate the rabbi and his family’s hospitality. And I appreciate knowing that wherever I am in the world there is a Chabad rabbi and his family nearby to help out with anything I might need.