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The Newark Riots and a Match Made in Heaven

The Newark Riots and a Match Made in Heaven

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My uncle, Rabbi Sholom Gordon of blessed memory, was a Lubavitch emissary in New Jersey, starting in the early forties. Over the years, he touched thousands of lives.

Sometime around 1960, the mother of a former student of Uncle Sholom approached him with a problem. Her daughter, who had reached marriageable age several years before, was having a hard time finding a shidduch (match). Aware of the Rebbe's greatness, the desperate mother asked Sholom to arrange a meeting for her with the Rebbe. Sholom complied, and even drove the mother, along with her son who was accompanying her, to meet the Rebbe, of righteous memory.

"When G‑d sends her bashert... then I will close the store"My uncle waited outside. When the mother emerged from the Rebbe's office, she looked upset. "What happened?" Sholom inquired. "Well," answered the mother, "I went in to the Rebbe and asked him for a blessing for my daughter's shidduch. I was surprised when the Rebbe began to ask me questions about my life. He asked me what our source of livelihood is. I told him that we have a very successful store in Newark. The Rebbe asked me if the store is open on Shabbat. I told him that it is.

"Then, and this is what I really do not understand, the Rebbe suggested that since we are financially secure, we should close our store on Shabbat and that G‑d will then send our daughter her bashert (intended one). I countered that we need the store to provide for our daughter in case something happens to us and she does not get married. When G‑d sends her bashert... then I will close the store. The Rebbe disagreed.

"Rabbi Gordon," continued the woman, "I am from Europe. I know chassidic rebbes. I thought they just gave blessings and wanted a donation. I didn't come here for business advice..."

Years went by. 1967 arrived and with it came the Newark Riots and violence and vandalism. The store owned by Sholom's former student's parents was among those destroyed in the melee. Already nearing retirement age, and with her husband having passed away shortly beforehand, the mother decided not to rebuild the store.

The store was finally closed on Shabbat.

Within a few months, the daughter met her bashert. Today, thank G‑d, she is the mother of a well-respected family.

Rabbi Yossy Gordon was born in Worcester, Mass., and serves as Executive Vice President of the Chabad on Campus International. Rabbi Gordon makes his home in Miami Beach, Fla., with his wife, Rochel, and their six children.
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Anonymous Staten Island December 16, 2015

The parents felt financially secure because they had a store but they forgot that the source of blessing is G-d who commanded us to rest on Shabbos. Shabbos is compared to a bride so it is meaningful that the Rebbe blessed that the daughter would become a bride if the parents welcomed the bride of Shabbos. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 16, 2011

The Wailing Wall: moving towards Jerusalem I know something, and it is deep, and I am saying everything I do is putting me in contact with massive synchronicity, meaning astonishment of story. I am no better than anyone on this blog, anyone who believes or does not, but acts according to the precepts of Torah, being love. I am not proselytizing.

I believe no one, or not many, could have spent as many days in terror, and in the agony of trying to comprehend what's happening so visibly in my life, and that does involve issues of free will and determinism, because how could it not, if everything you did, said, wrote, resulted in a mirror, an astonishment. I am not making this up, and it all did begin as a Vow, given the astonishment of a story that involved me, that if given more I could prove on paper, by way of a life, the existence of G_d, a Prime Mover in all of our lives.

Maybe life imitates fiction because this happened, and I stand by a story, that, in paradox I wrote but simply could not have written.

It's about LOVE. Reply

Anonymous Melbourne, Australia via chabadgleneira.com September 15, 2011

Truth in life Even when they themselves witnessed the events of the Exodus, the splitting of the Red Sea, the revelation of Torah at Mt. Sinai, manna from Heaven and all the rest, the Children of Israel were able to waffle and doubt, to long to return to the flesh-pots of Egypt and take up their slavery again, to build the Golden Calf, and so on. Perspective is everything. When faced with the on-going miracles of life we can all exercise our free will to doubt them or sneer or turn away in indifference.

So Ruth, no one can move you to a position you do not want to go to. However, while there may be something in the points you make because reality is deep and multi-layered and everything is true in some way, even falsehoods have their tiny sliver of validity, but the deeper truth that engages the most levels, that embraces Heaven and earth and leads to a healing in a whole life, revealing G-d everywhere lies elsewhere. It lies just beyond the surface of this story. Probe it a bit deeper. Reply

ruth Housman marshfield hills, ma October 29, 2010

in the wings Our LOT in life: going backwards:

it's very possible, something else, OTHER than keeping the Sabbath was involved in this meeting of souls. What you believe in this case seems to filter out this possibility.

Or it's possible this was the reason. I am saying, the logic that is irrefutable on this is totally lacking.

Keeping Shabbat within, well that's also another matter, and I am saying you do not know the heart of any other man or woman or how they keep love tight, within them. That's the true crux of the matter in my view. And G_d works in mysterious ways.


Sometimes in the very small, unlikely corners of the world we find a true, shining light, a person who glows. Such a person might be totally unknown. Might be a man or woman. G_d is an equal opportunity employer. A tzaddik might be a beggar on the street.

Do you think G_d cares about the trappings? It's what's inside that really does count. Somehow people lost sight of this.

it's easy to forget why one does what one does. Reply

shimon atlanta, ga October 29, 2010

in response to other comment. some times we try to elevate our self spiritually and we end up worse off. thats because our actions have slowed down what could have been a land slide in our situation. or a destined bodily harm was
exchanged with financial harm we dont know the overall picture there fore it seems that the situation got worse off when in fact it got better.
we need to remember that every ones tikun is different. and when something is lacking in this case it was inability to find a shiduch
it was because the spiritual channals or pipes that draw down that energy were blocked .a certain action here was needed in order to clear them . in this case was keeping the shabat. in other cases it might be a different action such as puting tefiline.
usually a great rebbe or a tsadick woulld know where the blockage is and what do do about it. Reply

Anonymous October 28, 2010

observing the sabbath. We must always put god before profit. All things are from god and he gives freely to those who delight in obeying his commands. Reply

ruth Housman marshfield hills, ma October 27, 2010

finding one's bashert Certainly this looks like it confirms the advice given. But it's not necessarily a direct and logical connect. Two things happened, and it happened she found someone. We don't know, do we, since we can never look backwards as to whether it would have happened in any case.

It would be lovely to think the advice was true.

But there are also people who marry, who find loved ones, who do work on Shabbat.

I am not sure there is a logical connect other than those who believe in keeping the Shabbat would like to use this for proof.

Unfortunately, you can't do this particular life backwards. But you can look at others who prospered and found their true love who lived with love too, in their humane dealings. Maybe it's not just about keeping the Sabbath. Reply

shimon atlanta, usa October 26, 2010

cause and affect everything we do has an affect. if not on us directly, then on our family members.
many times we are wrapped with the illusion that we are doing great in our business and shabbat is a very busy day at the store, just to find out later down the road that it is all lost. and we accomplished nothing.
some times we pay for it with our health.
is it worth it? Shabbat is probably the best present that G-d gave us. one day a week to disconnect ourselves from the daily madness of this world and connect our soul to its eternal source for refueling. Reply

Anonymous Camarillo, CA October 26, 2010

Could this mean God wanted the store open Shabbos? Woman says she is going to keep store open on Shabbos as long as her daughter is single, and is going to close store on Shabbos once daughter gets married.

G-d keeps daughter from finding a suitable husband. Why? Is it because allowing her to find a husband would mean the store would close on Shabbos? Is it because G-d wants store open on Shabbos and knows that keeping daughter single is a way to keep store open on Shabbos?

When store is destroyed by riot, G-d stops interfering in daughter's love life and lets her find husband. Why? Is it because, with the destruction of the store, there is no longer any reason to keep her single?

I know that no one here is going to agree with the previous paragraphs. You do not need to respond just to say that they are wrong.

My point is simply that any events can be perverted to "prove" any theory about God. These stores really prove nothing. They just serve to demonstrate the predispositions of the storyteller. Reply

Aaron Katz NJ, USA October 10, 2010

seeing the future The Rebbe knew that the Newark Riots were coming. This was a key event in Jewish history of the local area, and later formed what is known as Metrowest. So he was simply saying that if the woman is to get married, the store should be closed on Shabbat. They were taking their financial security too seriously, so they were unable to see the future. Reply

Jean Indianapolis, IN / USA October 9, 2010

Learning the hard way Amazing what has to happen in order for us to learn. I've known Christians who began tithing after they had hit bottom financially and the floodgates of Heaven opened up for them. Here, a simple request to observe the Sabbath has to be reinforced by a riot, but the outcome was a blessing. Maybe we could prevent a lot more pain if we did what we know to be right. Reply

Raymond Bastarache Plaster Rock nb, Canada October 8, 2010

keeping shabbat Some wait for G-D to answer their requests... but the answer comes after we do His will first... give my daughter a husband then I will close my business! But to be blessed is to close the store first! Now that's faith in G-d! Reply

Anonymous LA, Ca October 7, 2010

keeping Shabbat What a test!!! Reply

chana leah rego park, ny, usa October 6, 2010

does anyone know the link? I mean the reason between these two? My father works on Shabbat but we are not (so) financially secure. I kept Shabbat myself for a long time but got only more heartache. Reply