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The Rebbe’s Children

The Rebbe’s Children

Bob pointing to where I am sitting.
Bob pointing to where I am sitting.

I first met Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of righteous memory, after I had just become engaged to the Bronx borough president, Robert Abrams. Rabbi Mowshowitz, an acquaintance of Bob’s, arranged an appointment for us with the Rebbe, for us to receive a blessing prior to our marriage.

I remember arriving at 770 at midnight, but we did not enter the Rebbe's room until 3:00 AM. The Rebbe was very gracious, and that appointment started an ongoing relationship which continued for many years.

The Rebbe believed in women’s involvement in communal affairs. On one of our visits to the Rebbe, Bob, as a public officer, was describing his communal activities since he last saw the Rebbe. At one point he requested the Rebbe’s guidance on a particular communal issue. The Rebbe turned to me and asked, “So what about you? We are in the period of women’s liberation. You must have a view. What’s your opinion on the issue?”

Another story: One time, in the course of a farbrengen (public chassidic gathering), Bob presented the Rebbe with an honorary proclamation in honor of his birthday. He informed the Rebbe that he was bringing this proclamation on behalf of all the citizens of the Bronx, Jews and non-Jews alike. The Rebbe asked him, “Where is your wife?” I remember seeing Bob pointing towards the women’s section. Later Bob told me that he had told the Rebbe that I was right there, behind the glass window.

When I was forty-eight years of age I had only one child, Rachel, and my husband and I wanted another child. We went to a doctor who was considered an expert in the field, and she told us that we had less than a five percent chance of having another child. Throughout the time when we were visiting doctors and doing research on the possibility of having another child, we had not told anyone about this, not even our parents. We were hoping and praying alone that we would have another child.

Every year on Hoshana Rabbah (the final day of the holiday of Sukkot), we would come to the Rebbe to receive a traditional piece of honey cake and a blessing for a good and sweet year. That year we arrived directly from a funeral which Bob and I had attended; it was the first time we had not brought Rachel with us to the Rebbe.

My husband and I bring newborn Becky to the Rebbe.
My husband and I bring newborn Becky to the Rebbe.

Out of the blue, the Rebbe looked at us and gave us his blessing for “an addition to the family within the next year.” I was stunned. How could he have known that this is what we wanted? We had made no such request of the Rebbe, nor did we tell any of the Rebbe’s secretaries about our wish. It was tremendously encouraging to me, and many times throughout the year I thought about the Rebbe’s blessings, picturing the moment when the Rebbe gave us that special blessing.

Six weeks later, on Thanksgiving, I tested myself on one of those home pregnancy tests and it turned blue, indicating a positive result. I remember asking Rachel what color it was, and she said it was blue. I asked her again, “Are you sure it’s not white?” And she said, “No, Mom, it is definitely blue!”

I immediately went to the doctor’s office for a “real” test. Actually, it was our daughter’s pediatrician, because most doctors were not in on Thanksgiving Day. He called back to say that the test was positive . . . but there must be some mistake, because it simply could not be that I was pregnant! Instead, he advised that I take another test. Sure enough, the second test was positive as well. I was absolutely ecstatic.

A year later, in my fiftieth year, I gave birth to a wonderful girl, Binyomina, or Becky, named after my father-in-law, Binyomin, who was a very fine and special man.

The day I went to the hospital, Rachel, ten years old at the time, was at home. The phone rang, and Rachel answered. It was Rabbi Krinsky, one of the Rebbe’s secretaries, calling at the Rebbe’s behest. “Is everything okay with your mom?” he asked.

“I think so,” Rachel responded. “She went to the hospital a few hours ago. I think she is about to have a baby.” As it turned out, I was delivering our second child at that moment when Rabbi Krinsky called on the Rebbe’s behalf!

When Becky was a few months old, we went for our traditional annual Hoshana Rabbah visit to the Rebbe. Normally, the line of people waiting to receive the Rebbe’s blessings extended for three or four blocks along and around the Crown Heights streets, but the chassidim were always so very nice to us. When our car would arrive, somehow, somebody would come and lead us to the front of the line, sparing us the long wait.

We had the little infant in our hands. The Rebbe said, “I see you brought the addition to your family.” This was a year later, and the Rebbe used the exact words he had used one year earlier. I said that we wanted to thank the Rebbe very much for giving us this beautiful child.

Becky and me.
Becky and me.

“No, it wasn’t me,” the Rebbe said. And he lifted his hand and pointed towards the heavens.

This was the Rebbe, always shifting the focus away from himself. I remember another occasion when Bob presented a proclamation to the Rebbe, and he praised the Rebbe for all his work. The Rebbe’s response? “It is not me, it is the movement.”

The Rebbe was always focused on the other person, his sensitivity to others heightened to an incredible degree. He practically never left his house, but he knew all that was going on worldwide. This was one of his great powers, his great strength. When standing before him, you felt that you were the only person in the world. He never made you feel that he was greater than you; he brought out the best in you.

The Rebbe himself had no children, yet he gave so many people blessings for children. We are all his children.

Diane Abrams practiced law in Manhattan, and created and taught the nation’s first “Women and the Law” course at NYU Law School. She is the proud mother of two, and wife of Bob Abrams, who was New York State Attorney General. Diane currently is Vice President and Associate Broker with Brown Harris Stevens, selling apartments and townhouses.
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Laura Ellen Truelove Sewanee, TN, USA October 8, 2009

Family and Faith What a beautiful and inspiring story about family and faith! The Rebbe was like a loving father who brought tidings of great joy to this doting couple. G-d honored their faith with another child and we all stand in awe of and celebrate G-d's gift. Reply

Jacqui W. Orange, CA via June 16, 2009

Be careful Faith in G-d is commendable and the Rebbe should be commended for the good works and inspiration he gave to others. I dislike very much presenting these stories of miracles and blessings granted to a few. Do you really believe G-d listens to some and not others? what about mothers who pray fervently to G-d to save their children with cancer? what about all those parents whose children perished in the Holocaust?. A blessing is a wonderful thing. A prayer comes from the heart. Don't expect G-d to be a magician dispensing miracles, especially when there are so many others who are desperate for one! Reply

Ann July 6, 2008

Photo Becky looks just like her Mom.

Kennenhara, a beautiful girl. Reply

Chana Jenny Weisberg July 1, 2008

wonderful wonderful I heard these stories years ago from rachel, but hearing them from you brought tears to my eyes. Such amazing stories! what a privilege to have had such a special relationship with the Rebbe. May you continue to have so much nachas from your girls and beautiful granddaughters! Reply

Miriam Goodman Netivot, Israel June 30, 2008

The Rebbe I attended a Chabad women's convention in New York many years ago and the highlight was Sunday morning when we went to 770 to receive a blessing and dollar from the Rebbe. I remember waiting patiently while several women at a time were ushered into a waiting room each waiting our turn. The Rebbe was standing by the doorway. His eyes concentrating, deep in thought. He looked like royality. When it was my turn, as aked him for a blessing for my young son. He gave me 2 dollars. One for me and the other for my son. To this day, my son has a picture of the Rebbe and his dollar hanging in his room. This was such a moving experience that I will never forget it. Reply

sara June 30, 2008

such a beautiful story, we are so proud to be the Rebbe's children ! Reply

DL Cali. June 29, 2008

Our Rebbe "I see you brought the addition to your family."
How beautiful is that?!
Whatta a Rebbe we have! Reply

Leah Liberow June 17, 2007

This is a real beautiful article showing the strengh of a Jewish women and the love the Rebbe has to the Jewish nation. I will definitely share this article with other women!! Reply

shmuel London, UK June 14, 2007

We miss you I couldn't stop crying reading this story.
The Rebbe was there for every single Yid; where do we go now? Reply

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