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An Irish Kid with a Jewish Name

An Irish Kid with a Jewish Name

The Rebbe (a portait by Sarah Kranz)
The Rebbe (a portait by Sarah Kranz)

I heard this story from the Lubavitcher Rebbe's secretary, Rabbi Laibel Groner.

A woman from the Chabad-Lubavitch Community in Brooklyn was pulled over by a N.Y.C. traffic cop for some traffic violation. Standing outside her open car window and watching her search for her license and registration papers, the police officer caught sight of a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in her open purse.

"Excuse me, maam," he asked, "are you one of the followers of this Rabbi?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Well, in that case I'm not giving you a ticket." He closed his ticket book and continued, "Do you know why? Because this Rabbi," he pointed to the picture she was now holding in her hand, "Did a very big miracle for me."

"Well," said the grateful woman, "since you aren't giving me the ticket, I have time to hear the story."

The policeman smiled and said, "It's my favorite story, but I haven't told it to many Jewish people, in fact I think that you are the first." The cars were whizzing by behind him and he had to raise his voice slightly. "The story goes like this: I used to be in the police escort that once a week escorted the Rabbi to the Montefiore Cemetery (where the Rebbe's father-in-law and predecessor, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, is interred). I got to know some of the young men who accompanied the Rebbe, and I learned a lot of things. They are very friendly people, which you probably already know, and we talked a lot while the Rabbi was inside praying.

"Well, one day I saw that all the fellows there were really talking excitedly to each other so I asked them what happened. So they told me that the Rabbi does a lot of miracles for people, but today he did a miracle that was really something. I didn't even ask what was the miracle that they were talking about, I just asked them if the Rabbi helps non-Jews also.

"'Sure,' they said, 'The Rebbe helps anyone who asks. Why? Do you need something?' So I told him, this young fellow, that me and my wife had been married nine years with no children, and a week ago the doctors told us that we had no chance. We had spent a lot of money on treatments, seen all sorts of big professors, we were running around like crazy for the last six or seven years, and now they told us that they tried everything and there is no chance. You can't imagine how broken we were. My wife cried all the time and I started crying myself.

"So this young man tells me, 'Listen, the next time that you escort the Rebbe to the cemetery stand near the door of his car and when he gets out ask him for a blessing.' So that is just what I did. The next time I was in the escort I stood by his door and when he got out I said to him: 'Excuse me, Rabbi, do you only bless Jewish people or non-Jews too?'

"So the Rabbi looked at me like a good friend, it was really amazing, and said that he tries to help anyone he can. So I told him what the doctors said, and he said I should write down on a piece of paper my name and my father's name together with my wife's and her father's names and that he would pray for us. So I did it, my hands were shaking so much I almost couldn't write, but I did it and you know what? My wife became pregnant and nine months later she gave birth to a baby boy! The doctors went crazy, they couldn't figure it out, and when I told them that it was all the Rabbi's blessing they just scratched their heads and — Wow! I felt like the champion of the world!

"But here comes the good part. Do you know what we called him? What name we gave our baby boy? Just guess! We called him Mendel after the Rabbi. At first my wife didn't like the name because its not an American name, but I said, No! We're calling him Mendel! Each time we say his name we'll remember that if it weren't for the Rabbi this boy would not be here.

"But when our parents heard the name they really objected. They said, 'With a name like that, all the kids will think he's a Jew or something and they will call him names and be cruel to him. Why make the kid suffer for no reason?' 'That's just what I want,' I said to them. 'When he comes home and says that the other kids called him names and beat him up because he has a Jewish name, I'll tell him that I want him to learn from those other kids how not to behave. They hate the Jews for no reason, but you should love the Jews, you should help the Jews. You just tell them that without that Jewish Rabbi called Mendel you wouldn't be here at all, and then maybe they'll start thinking differently too!'

A popular teacher, musician and storyteller, Rabbi Tuvia Bolton is co-director of Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim in Kfar Chabad, Israel, and a senior lecturer there.
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Elisheva L.A. July 23, 2017

There were fertility treatments prior to his death in 1994? Hmm.... Reply

YY Israel October 4, 2017
in response to Elisheva:

There are in fact quite a number of letters by the Rebbe referring to these treatments. See indeces to Igros Kodesh... Reply

Yeshua Kizer Arlington, TX February 13, 2017

The Police Officer thought Mendel more Jewish than Tuvia? Oy Vey. Or, is this being written from the Officers perspective by someone else, named Tuvia? Either way, Baruch HaShem on the blessings of life! Reply

Anonymous Cary nc usa October 23, 2014

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us.
Reading it brought tears in my eyes. What a good and righteous man! Righteous among nations!
Hope and pray that all nations become righteous like this righteous police officer. Tehillim Psalm 67 Reply

Patrick California September 5, 2013

Just what I needed today What I enjoy most about this story is the beautiful illustration of the durable propagation of good. The Rebbe's blessing, the birth of a child, the righteous but difficult gift of a beautiful name, the defeat of slander, and a small gesture of forgiveness by the cop. An act of food ripples through time and space, echoes and reverberates in the spaces between our lives in ways profound, surprising and serendipitous. Reply

Debra New York May 6, 2013

What impresses me most That the Rebbe's blessing works is quite an understandable miracle. What most impresses me is the policeman's gratitude in a generation where many would suffice with a simple thank you and a lavish present. He even went to the extent of calling his son Mendel, through which educating him by putting him through daily hostility and ridicule... It is further apparent from the grandparents' reaction that his action would be standing up to society and their outlook and even trying to change it! It takes a truth seeker and a man to make such a beautiful story! Reply

Avraham NY.brooklyn December 24, 2012

It is very beautiful story ! i enjoyed !! Reply

Anonymous June 25, 2012

Bracha from the Rebbe I too was having trouble having another child my first daughter was almost eleven years old and no more children we asked for a bracha from the Rebbe and within the year were blessed with another beautiful daughter. Reply

Perle Brooklyn, NY June 22, 2012

Mendel for a nonJew I think what this also shows is the power and kindness of the nonJew to take the blessing and make even more out of it. Definitely righteous. I hope one day all the nations can look past their differences and come together because we're all from Hashem. Reply

Julie Starr toronto, canada May 6, 2011

we need to see the Rebbe's example to love all peo The Rebbe shows us how to be kind and good to all people.
A very special true story! Reply

Anonymous Pittsburgh, PA/USA April 13, 2011

Mendel the Irish boy I LOVE this story. :-D Reply

CBK mansfield, MA via February 23, 2009

I love stories like this. I really do believe, as I tell G-d each night. We really are special people, aren't we. Reply

Michael Smolkin Lafayette, California via November 9, 2008

I liked it That was a very good story. I really liked it. I believe that it is true, and if it is, then that shows that miracles really do happen. Reply

Jake Johnson July 23, 2004

good story, really enjoyed it.