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Car Menorah Leads the Way, Quite Literally, in the Case of a Man Lost on Shabbat

Car Menorah Leads the Way, Quite Literally, in the Case of a Man Lost on Shabbat

Yoni Walz found a Chanukah haven in a Connecticut suburb, by surprise and with a little help

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This car menorah was what Yoni Walz saw when he was lost in suburban Connecticut; in fact, it led him to a place to stay for Shabbat during Chanukah.
This car menorah was what Yoni Walz saw when he was lost in suburban Connecticut; in fact, it led him to a place to stay for Shabbat during Chanukah.

It was Friday afternoon approaching the fourth night of Chanukah, just before the sun was about to dip below the horizon, and Yoni Walz was on his way from Monsey, N.Y., to visit friends in West Hartford, Conn., for Shabbat.

With minutes to spare, his GPS informed him that he was right outside his destination. So he called up his host, Moishe Lustig.

“Hi Moishe,” he said, “I’m outside. Where should I park?”

“Hey, Yoni,” Moishe replied. “I’ll run outside to show you where to go.”

Moishe hung up and shut off his cell phone for Shabbat. When he got outside, he didn’t see Yoni or his car anywhere. He checked up and down the street—no Yoni. Moishe went to the back of his house—no Yoni. By the time Moishe got back inside his house, it was officially Shabbat—and still no Yoni.

A bit worried, Moishe and his other guests went off to Friday-night services, figuring Yoni would be there by the time he got back.

But when they returned, he wasn’t there. That evening, they searched high and low, but there was no trace of Yoni. Shabbat passed nervously. As soon as it ended, the phone rang. It was Yoni.

Here’s Yoni’s story:

Right after I hung up the phone, I realized I was in the wrong place. It was the right address but in the wrong town. Instead of West Hartford, I was in Berlin, Conn.

I typed the proper address into the GPS and started zooming, but I soon realized that it was futile. I pulled over to the parking lot of a Barnes & Noble bookstore, parked the car and locked the doors, and hid the keys under the car tire.

Dressed in my Shabbat clothes, I approached the cashier inside the store and asked her if she perhaps knew where I could find the closest synagogue, where I could attend services and maybe even get invited for Shabbat dinner.

Walz lights a menorah Saturday night in the home of Rabbi Yosef and Yehudis Wolvovsky.
Walz lights a menorah Saturday night in the home of Rabbi Yosef and Yehudis Wolvovsky.

“Here,” she said, pushing her keyboard in my direction. “Go ahead, you can use my computer.”

“It’s my Sabbath now,” I replied. “I can’t type.”

“Oh, yes, that’s right. Here, let’s see,” she said, typing and peering at the computer screen. “OK, the Chabad Jewish Center of Glastonbury is .9 miles away from here. The address is 25 Harris Street. Let me write the directions down for you.”

“You can just tell them to me,” I replied. “I can’t carry the piece of paper, so I will have to memorize the way.”

“Sure, it seems pretty simple,” she said. “You walk down this main street until you get to an intersection, make a right, then make a left at Harris. The address is 25 Harris Street.”

I thanked her and headed on my way. It was a long, cold walk. As I walked, I kept on reviewing the directions in my mind. Arriving at the intersection, I paused for a moment. Was it right first or left? I couldn’t remember. Right or left, right or left? I turned left. I walked passed a few blocks, but no Harris Street.I was lost. I considered turning around and going back to the bookstore, but decided to walk one more block first. The next street was called Hanes Street.

Maybe I heard wrong, and it’s Hanes Street and not Harris, I thought. With nothing to lose, I started searching for 25 Hanes. But there was no 25 Hanes Street. Suddenly, I saw a car with a menorah on top of it. I quickened my pace, and saw Chanukah lights flickering in the window of a nearby home.

A sense of relief and joy spread through me. I walked up the pathway and knocked on the door. Rabbi Yosef Wolvovsky (co-director of the Glastonbury Chabad center, now called the Benet Rothstein Chabad Center, with his wife Yehudis) opened the door.

“You don’t know me,” I began, “but I’m stuck and need a place for Shabbat. I was driving from Monsey to West Hartford, and somehow ended up here.”

“Come on in,” the rabbi beamed. “Here, have a seat. You made perfect timing. We are about to make Kiddush. Let me ask you though, how did you find our house?”

“I got directions to the Chabad House,” I said, “but I must have made a wrong turn and got lost. Seeing your menorah, I came to your house instead.”

The rabbi smiled. “It’s a good thing you got lost. No one’s at the Chabad House now. Thank G‑d, you got lost and came here instead.”

The Chabad Jewish Center of Glastonbury, Conn., at 25 Harris Street (the address that proved so elusive for Walz). It's now officially called the Benet Rothstein Chabad Center.
The Chabad Jewish Center of Glastonbury, Conn., at 25 Harris Street (the address that proved so elusive for Walz). It's now officially called the Benet Rothstein Chabad Center.

The next morning, the rabbi and I walked together to services at 25 Harris Street. One by one, men trickled in. There were exactly nine men in the room besides me. I completed the minyan—the quorum of 10 men needed for public Jewish worship—allowing services to function as usual.

During the Kiddush reception that followed, the rabbi asked me to share my story with the group.

“First, I need to express my thanks to G‑d for guiding me here. I also owe a debt of gratitude to His many messengers: the kind lady at Barnes & Noble who gave me directions; the Wolvovskys, who welcomed me into their home; and most of all, to the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory] for sending his shluchim, his emissaries, all over the world.”

Maybe there’s no such thing as getting lost, after all.

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M. Gordon Melbourne December 25, 2014

A Teaching Moment Perfect story to read and discuss at the Shabbat table.! One can see it as an allegory for the soul's descending into the world and getting lost...... Reply

Suri Katz Brooklyn December 24, 2014

I just had the most wonderful Shabbos in Litchfield, Connecticut. Rabbi Eisenbach and his wonderful family organized a real Moshiachdiger Shabbos. This is the first time I spent a Shabbos with Chabad. Can't wait for the next one.
Thank you Rabbi Manis Friedman and Rabbi Yosef Jacobson for your very inspiring discussions. You bring such clarity to Yiddishkeit. May the entire Chabad family be blessed with much success. Reply

Menucha Chana Levin Jerusalem December 24, 2014

This story shows that no Jew is ever totally lost in any sense of the word.
Thanks, Devorah. Reply

Anonymous December 23, 2014

amazing story another great story by Devorah Lustig! Reply

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