|Installing a mezuzah on one of the few Jewish shops on the island.|
We arrived in Bonaire at 9 AM and started our day. We put up a mezuzah on the door of a shop, and kept on looking for more contacts.
We decided to try the medical school, which attracts students from all over the world. The students told us that there were two Jewish guys at the school: Jeremy and David.
We found Jeremy right away, and had a wonderful visit. Next project: David.
Driving across the island to the campus where he studies, we got stuck behind a herd of donkeys. (They say that there are more donkeys than people here.) We could not find him. Some people did not know who he was, and one person even knew where he lived but could not recall the street names, so her directions were less than useful. We tried to do what we could . . . but eventually we turned our attention elsewhere.
At 6 o’clock we got a call. David was on the phone. He had heard that we were trying to meet him, and was happy to have us over. He helped us with the directions, and finally we made it!
Arriving at his house, we soon found out that our new Jewish friend comes from none other than Alaska! (He is a fourth-generation Alaskan.) Talk about a change in climate . . .
David had never had a bar mitzvah. After all, he grew up four hundred miles away from the closest synagogue. Eager to remedy the situation, we helped him into tefillin for the first time in his life. A bar mitzvah of an Alaskan Jew in Bonaire! I must say that was a very exciting and emotional time for all three of us.
We blew the shofar, as is customary during the month of Elul, to remind us of the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holiday. We spoke about joining the Jewish community of Curacao for the High Holidays, and that we would help him with a place to stay.
By that time we had to get to the airport to catch our flight back to Curacao, but we made sure to exchange contact information. After all, it is not often that an Alaskan and a Chabadnik meet on a Caribbean island.