Mission Impossible

21 Ador Rishon 5776

(Recounted at the  recent yohrtzeit melaveh malkah.) As the war neared its end in 5704, the Frierdike Rebbe received a written account about the fate of his choice chasidim in Riga. The Nazis ys”v rounded R’ Itche masmid, R’ Chatche Feigin (former secretary of the Frierdike Rebbe) and one other chosid (sorry, forgot the name) with the other Riga yidden into the local shul. They then set the shul on fire and listened gleefully to the agonized screams of the doomed Jews inside.

Upon reading the letter, the Rebbe had a heart attack. The doctors warned the family that his heart would not handle the New York heat. As the Rebbe would not leave 770, they advised the family that he’ll only survive the summer if central air conditioning would be installed in his apartment.

Now, back then the costs of such a system were prohibitive. Chassidim, of course, began fundraising immediately but they didn’t have any real hope of raising the entire sum in time. Shortly after Pesach as summer was approaching, R’ Shmuel A. Kazarnovsky traveled to Montreal to see what could be done there. He tearfully explained to one of the yeshiva bochurim there the imminent danger facing the Rebbe. R’ Yitzchok Hendel had arrived only three years ago with some peers from Europe. They barely knew English and certainly weren’t very familiar with the Montreal locals. But he wasn’t deterred. He offered to bring Rabbi Kazarnovsky to one of the Yeshiva’s friends. But Rabbi Kazarnovsky would have to explain to her the Rebbe’s importance and make the appeal.

The mission was successful and our generous friend single-handedly paid for the air-conditioning system. The Frierdike Rebbe lived on six more years till 10 Shvat 5710.


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