When Sarcalem Adigeh was struck by a crazed neighbor’s bullet, the Houston Jewish community collectively held its breath. Adigeh was a loved member whose wife, Belaynesh Zevadia, served as the deputy Israeli consul to the southwestern United States.

This month, the same community came together to give thanks for Adigeh’s survival during a Shabbat kiddush held at Chabad-Lubavitch of Uptown.

For Adigeh, the seudat hodaya – which translates as a “thanksgiving meal” – represented the completion of a roller-coaster year. In April 2007, his neighbor went on a shooting spree, shooting Adigeh through the door of the apartment he shared with his wife and daughter Lee.


“It was a very big tragedy,” said the Ethiopian-born Adigeh. “We were asking many questions. We were asking why it happened.”

Zevadia, who earned headlines in the 1990s as the first Ethiopian-born graduate of Israel’s foreign service academy, credited the Chabad House – directed by Rabbi Chaim and Chanie Lazaroff – with her husband’s spiritual recovery.

“They helped a lot after he went through this horrible thing,” said Zevadia. “We like them very much.”

Chaim Lazaroff acknowledged that his congregation “provided moral support” and that he visited the couple in the hospital.

“They prayed for us to make it through our difficult time,” said Adigeh. “That means a lot to us.”

Adigeh, who continues to suffer psychological trauma from the assault, said that he finds strength in his involvement in the community. He joins his wife and daughter for holiday programs at the Chabad House, and Lee takes part in the Houston branch of the Friendship Circle, a national Chabad-Lubavitch program that pairs teenage volunteers with children with special needs.

The shooting “was a turning point in his life,” explained Lazaroff. ‘He became more spiritually aware of his life.”

“The people are very warm, very loving,” offered Adigeh. “That’s what we need when we are down.”

“Having Adigeh and Zevadia in our community is a wonderful thing,” added Lazaroff. “It is inspiring not just to myself, but to the entire community.”