More than 30 years after the kindnesses of a stranger enabled a Russian immigrant and her family to successfully adjust to life in the United States, a chance meeting at a Florida hotel allowed the woman to reconnect with the family of a now 83-year-old man who looked out for her spiritual and physical welfare.

When Rita Khromov, a grandmother from Florida’s east coast, walked into the temporary home of Chabad-Lubavitch of North Orlando, she was looking for a Rosh Hashanah service to attend while visiting her son. The family, though, arrived just after the morning prayers had concluded.

“We were in the middle of enjoying some homemade honey cake, when in walks this family of Jews that I had never seen before,” relates Rabbi Yanky Majesky, who founded the Lake Mary congregation with his wife Chanshy last year. “They looked shocked that services were over already, and the grandmother was very sad to say the least. So I offered to do another service for just the four of them.”

After the service, Khromov – who lives in Vero Beach and typically attends Chabad of the Space and Treasure Coasts – asked the Majeskys a question she has asked of many a Chabad family she’s come in contact with: Did they know a Rabbi Leible Dubov from New York?

Yanky Majesky replied that, as a matter of fact, his wife had a grandfather by that name, and would check with him after the holiday. In the meantime, she wanted to hear Khromov’s story.

Back in 1976, Khromov, a newly-arrived immigrant, had just given birth to a son at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, when Dubov visited her during his customary rounds of visiting patients and uplifting their spirits. When he heard that the woman had just emigrated from Russia, Dubov offered to arrange for the newborn’s circumcision.

“He told me, ‘I’ll come to your house in eight days and arrange a bris,’ ” remembers Khromov.

Dubov was back several days later to check on the baby. He later arranged for the circumcision for Khromov’s older son, then five years old.

In her first weeks and months in the United States, Khromov struggled to learn English and, despite the fact that back in Russia she was a talented composer, find gainful employment. She lived in a one-room apartment with one chair and used a baby carriage missing a wheel.

When she walked into an employment agency, she was amazed to find that the job counselor was none other than the rabbi who first met her at the hospital.

“You did a mitzvah,” she told him. “Can you try to do another mitzvah again?”

Dubov did, finding Khromov a job at a “little theater school” in Borough Park. She worked there up until her retirement a couple of years ago, training musicians and performers, including some 700 boys from the world-famous Miami Boys Choir.

Rabbi Yanky Majesky
Rabbi Yanky Majesky

Master Plan

After the holiday, Majesky called the grandfather, who remembered Khromov but had difficulty recalling all of the finer points of the story. Now, the two are hoping to reunite in person.

“It would be wonderful to meet her,” says Dubov.

Khromov says that Majesky’s family has been responsible for four life-altering things.

“Your Zeidy gave me a job, and made [my son] Jewish,” she told Majesky. “He will be a student in your classes, and his children with attend your Hebrew school.”

Today, Majesky joins his father-in-law, Rabbi Sholom Dubov, director of Chabad of Greater Orlando, on the same types of visits that put Khromov in touch with Dubov’s father so many years ago. The elder Dubov was even in town for this week’s grand celebration in honor of Chabad of Greater Orlando’s 25th anniversary.

“I am very excited to be a part of this amazing Divine Providence,” says Majesky. “We are starting a Jewish community from scratch in many ways, and it isn’t easy. Being part of such a story is a real shot in the arm because it reveals that there is a very big master plan, and that every soul has other souls to inspire. G‑d leads you to those people somehow, someway, from New York all the way to Lake Mary.”