Following a hit-and-run accident that seriously injured their rabbi, the Jewish community of Randolph, N.J., has been rallying together to get as many mitzvah pledges as they can. The effort started in May and is still going strong.

Rabbi Avraham Bekhor, co-director with his wife, Chava, of Chabad-Lubavitch of Randolph was walking home on the evening of the festival of Shavuot, escorting a few young visiting yeshivah students back to their school in nearby Morristown. As he turned the corner of a busy street, he was hit by a car, whose driver then sped off.

A passerby noticed and called 911. An ambulance arrived, and the rabbi was rushed to the hospital. After a number of transfers to different rehabilitation facilities since then, he is feeling better but has yet to make a full recovery.


“When we first heard about what happened, we were devastated,” said Netanya Cohen, a longtime community member and close friend of the Bekhor family. “I knew that something had to be done. I wasn’t alone in those feelings; the community as a whole really wanted to do something for him.

“The rabbi had just spoken earlier on the holiday about the power of a mitzvah, and how there are forces trying to challenge that power all the time. I was thinking about that, and I realized that increasing mitzvahs would be the best thing we could do for his recovery.”

After many messages between community members and sending out an email soliciting people to do a mitzvah in the rabbi’s honor, the campaign was born. A website was set up that offered suggested mitzvahs and recorded commitments for all—including, of course, the rabbi—to see.

Rabbi Avraham and Chava Bekhor
Rabbi Avraham and Chava Bekhor

Adding a personal touch to the effort, the rabbi’s birthday came shortly after the accident. So in the email, recipients were told that a video was being put together as a surprise gift to present to the rabbi on his birthday and asked to send footage to make that happen.

Mitzvah pledges, well-wishes and birthday blessings came pouring in, and before long, Cohen had much to work with, producing a complete video in time for the birthday.

“I was so touched by the efforts of the entire community,” Rabbi Bekhor told “So many people took on different mitzvahs in my honor, and I can say for certain that it impacted my spiritual healing which, in turn, impacted my physical healing, as well.

“It was really a very emotional time for me, stuck in a hospital not really able to do much. That so much happened in my honor was very uplifting for me.”

“Our community comes together all the time, for the good and for the bad, but this was by far the worst,” said Phyllis Mackinney, also of Randolph. “The rabbi and his wife, Chava, are such wonderful people, and we were just beside ourselves that such a thing could have happened. But our community is strong, and we’ve rallied together and are doing so many good things in his honor. We’ve gotten together for challah bakes, we put yard signs in front of the rabbi’s house wishing him a speedy recovery.”

Meir Guige, left, helps a young man put on tefillin in Rabbi Bekhor's merit.
Meir Guige, left, helps a young man put on tefillin in Rabbi Bekhor's merit.

The Mitzvahs Don’t Stop

There’s still a considerable stretch ahead on the road to recovery, and as long as that road exists (and even after), the community of Randolph plans to keep the momentum going.

“Everyone really jumped on the idea of their power to do something, and we plan to keep this going for as long as we can,” said Cohen.

“An accident like this can really set you back. It’s a dark, dark event, and without the proper perspective, it can be very challenging,” explained Bekhor. “But as the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory,] always taught, our job is to bring more light into this world, and if there’s ever a dark event such as this one, that just means it’s another opportunity to bring in even more light. So that’s what I am going to do.

“As I re-enter my regular life and resume my work in Randolph, I want to ride on the force of all the positivity that was generated in the wake of my accident and use it to jump-start everything we do here.”

With a ticker of mitzvahs running across the screen of the dedicated mitzvah website, it seems the rabbi’s words are already coming true.