During my time as a New Jersey senator, Sarah, a close friend and coworker, approached me and asked me to assist her with a serious personal problem. Sarah was a talented writer who often provided me with a religious perspective on Jewish issues in the state.

Originally from Paris, Sarah felt she would be more comfortable in a French atmosphere, and decided to move to Montreal. There she met and married a French artist and began a new life in Montreal together with her four-year-old son. However, Sarah soon realized that the man she thought to be good and decent, was in fact not good or kind or decent. He threatened to kidnap her son, claiming he would take the child to the far northern sections of Canada where no one would ever find them.

And so, at 11:00 PM one night Sarah knocked on the door of my Cherry Hill home, fearful and distraught. I immediately understood that her husband had made good on his threat and kidnapped the child. My heart went out to her.

Those who have a prominent position in the society have a greater responsibility to strengthen the moral fabric of the society by example and precept . . . The next day we drove back to Montreal to hire an attorney and go before the judge so that Sarah could get her son back. I told the judge the truth about her husband, that he had led a very unsavory life. Within ten minutes, the judge slammed his gavel down and gave Sarah back her son.

That night we waited until the sun went down, and drove back to Cherry Hill with Sarah and her son. I had informed my husband that we needed to clean out the refrigerator and make our kitchen kosher. While we were away, my husband Harold had located a kosher food market in Philadelphia, and stocked up on kosher meats and dairy products for Sarah and her son.

Having Sarah stay with us reminded me of being eight and nine years old, when my family lived in a Jewish section of Brooklyn, New York. Although I am not Jewish, memories from my childhood welled up and I felt a strong sense of familiarity. Although Sarah was in troubling circumstances, I remember clearly that we still managed to laugh about the situation.

In her unique way, Sarah wanted to thank me for helping her. As a deeply religious woman, she requested that I write to the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, about myself, my political career, etc. At the same time, she wrote to the rabbi, telling him how my husband and I had assisted her in her time of need, and asking him to give me his blessing.

I was not sure why, but I followed her advice.

When I received the rabbi’s response I was a little surprised, for its content was not what one would typically to write to a senator. To this day I treasure that letter. Furthermore, I feel strongly that the entire incident with Sarah, and the letter from the late Rabbi Schneerson, held an important lesson for me.

It is about loving one another.

Presented is the letter from the rabbi:

Facsimile of the Rebbe’s letter to Alene S. Ammond.
Facsimile of the Rebbe’s letter to Alene S. Ammond.

Letter to A New Jersey State Senator

By the Grace of G d
6th of Adar, 5742 [March 1, 1982]
Brooklyn, N. Y.

Mrs. Alene S. Ammond
Cherry Hill, N.J.

Blessing and Greeting:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of Feb. 25th, in which you introduce yourself as a Catholic-Christian, and outline high points of your life and public service, noting that you have a strong desire to continue to utilize your capacities to make an important contribution in certain areas of public endeavor.

To a person of your background, there is no need to emphasize at length the importance for every person to realize his or her potential, especially one who has been endowed with special talents and capacities, and has used them successfully.

There is an ancient Talmudic saying, which is both timeless and universal, “Nothing stands in the way of the will,” coupled with the assurance, “Make the proper effort, and you will succeed.” In view of your experiences in the past and your determination for the future, I am confident that you will find the proper ways and means to achieve your goals, all the more so since in such a case one receives aid from On High.

At the same time, I would like to call attention to a point which is really self-evident, but because of its importance, cannot be overemphasized. I refer to the Divinely ordained Seven Categories of moral laws and principles which have been given to Noah and his descendants by the Creator and Master of the world, i.e., all humanity. These include such fundamental precepts as the prohibition of idolatry, robbery, the laws of justice, etc. Although common sense dictates that these laws are indispensable as the basis of any decent human society, experience has shown that, human nature being what it is, common sense has not been a reliable factor in the implementation of the said basic laws, if they are based only on the dictates of common sense. Suffice it to mention that the Holocaust of the Second World War sprouted and burst forth in a country and a people that had been most prominent in the area of human thought, philosophy and ethics. But because it was all based on the human mind, and not on the recognition of a Supreme Being, it could be twisted to devise and “justify” the most horrid inhumanity and cruelty in human history.

It is therefore everyone’s obligation, especially in this day and age, to promote the said moral laws as ordained by the Supreme Being. Certainly those who have a prominent position in the society have a greater responsibility to strengthen the moral fabric of the society by example and precept, especially among the young generation, for a better and brighter future for all.

With prayerful wishes for success in all above, and
With esteem and blessing,
M. Schneerson