I’ve Had a Weird Day…

Did you ever have one of those days where you expect Rod Serling to step out from behind a building while you stand frozen in place and say something like “Picture, if you will, a man…”

I’ve had one of those days, and it’s not over yet. And I’m trying to figure out whether there’s some larger meaning to it.

It started very early this morning, at around ten minutes to seven, when I was driving to our morning minyan. I was standing at a red light, listening to the radio, happily oblivious, when I eventually noticed the sound of a horn honking wildly. I looked to my left, out of my window, and saw that the passengers- two middle-aged African- American women- were trying very hard to get my attention. I rolled down my window, and they immediately asked me “Do you know where the Forest Hills Jewish Center is?”

“Ah,” I thought, a question I can answer. I pointed across Queens Boulevard and told them that they were staring at the synagogue. They were appropriately grateful, and drove away. I realized, of course, that it was possible that they were Jewish and coming to minyan, but I doubted it, and I was right. I have no idea what they were looking for in the synagogue at that hour, but that’s where they were headed. I went to minyan, and they went their way.

A bit later in the day, I was walking along Queens Boulevard and noticed a man dressed in Hassidic garb walking in my direction. In other parts of Queens that would not be an unusual sight, but in Forest Hills, not so common. Sure enough, as I’m passing him on the sidewalk, he asked, in an appropriately accented English, if I knew where the Forest Hills Jewish Center was.

“Well, as a matter of fact, I do,” I said. I was tempted to tell him that he had the good fortune of asking the rabbi of the Forest Hills Jewish Center for directions, a man who was sure to know the answer, but I looked at him and decided that little that was useful would come of that conversation, so I just gave him directions. He went his way, I went mine.

It was just about at this point that I was expecting Rod Serling to make an apprearance. What are the odds, I thought, of that happening twice in a day, particularly from two very different kinds of people, neither of whom were likely to me making their way to my synagogue? We do rent space to a variety of organizations, but none of them meet at seven in the morning, or particularly cater to the needs of Hassidim….

I’ve been holed up in my office all day, and haven’t had much of a chance to go outside since the early morning. But it’s getting to be that time- and I can’t wait to see who needs directions…

Just one of those days…

About the Author
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens.