It Happened To Me!

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“We Pass the Packages Around”

M. Sasson

July 2014

Daniel Braha of Deal knew exactly how he wanted to usher in his status as a bar mitzvah: with an act of hesed. Daniel wished to send care packages to 100 IDF soldiers in Israel. This was a difficult feat to accomplish on a budget, and kindhearted community members joined Daniel and his family on their hesed mission. With Mrs. Braha’s help, donations poured in from everywhere. First came the special pouches – 16 square inches, heavy duty white plastic, and a sealable flap attached. There was more: tzitzit, t-shirts, socks, flashlights, hand wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, undershirts – what have you. How exciting it was for Daniel and his family to return from school each day with more goodies to add to the packages! Tehillim books, dental floss, deodorant…the list kept growing. The Brahas gathered the donated paraphernalia which was to be packaged by Daniel’s friends on the day of the bar mitzvah celebration.

Daniel’s big day finally arrived. Family and friends joined together to celebrate Daniel’s bar mitzvah. After a beautiful seudah, the boys sprang into action, stuffing those IDF bags. The boys had a grand time packaging the goods. When they were done, they pasted two cards to each care package. One, in Hebrew, read: “Dear Soldier, I extend my support and appreciation to you on the occasion of my Bar Mitzvah.” It was signed, “Daniel Braha, Deal, New Jersey.” The other card, in English, was a short note from Daniel’s peers. At last, the packages were complete, and they looked magnificent.

As the bar mitzvah excitement began to subside, a logistical problem surfaced: how would the Brahas send 100 bulky packages to the Holy Land? Unfazed, Mrs. Braha contacted Mrs. Helen Fuchs of Long Island, the brains behind A Package from Home, an organization which sends solidarity packages to soldiers in Israel.

“We generally send off the packages with travelers to Israel,” Mrs. Fuchs explained, touched by the thoughtfulness of a 13-year-old. “Although you have so many packages, one thing I assure you: those packages will reach their destination by Sukkot! Simply send them over to me, and your bags will take precedence.”

And send them she did! Mrs. Braha sent one of the two package-filled duffel bags with a Sephardic Bikur Holim staff member who lived in North Jersey. That staff member had an acquaintance that commuted to Long Island and was willing to take the duffel bag over to Mrs. Fuchs. All involved parties repeated this arrangement with the other duffel bag, as well. Thus, after an exchange of many hands, the bags reached the organization in Long Island.

This was the last the Brahas knew about the IDF packages. War broke out shortly afterward, and it was difficult to ascertain whether the packages ever reached their destination. Did they arrive in Israel? Had the IDF troops received them? The saga of the care packages ended there. Or so thought the Brahas…

***

January 2015 (Six months later)

Daniel’s older brother, Harry Braha, who is spending the year learning in yeshiva in Israel, gripped a pole on a crowded bus in Jerusalem. After a while, Harry noticed that a man, who had boarded the bus a few minutes after he did, was staring at him intently.

“You look quite familiar,” the man remarked to Harry. “Do I know you? I’m from New York, by the way.”

“I’m Harry Braha, from Deal, New Jersey,” Harry replied.

“Braha?! Braha from Deal, New Jersey?!” the man exclaimed, his voice brimming with excitement. “Are you by any chance related to Daniel Braha, also from Deal, New Jersey?”

“He… He’s my younger brother. Uh, how do you-”

“You’re Daniel Braha’s brother! Well, my brother is a soldier here in Israel, and this past summer, he received a package from America from a Daniel Braha of Deal, New Jersey. He was so touched. It meant so much to all of us!”

Harry smiled and nodded knowingly. The man hugged him and jumped off the bus by the next stop.

Harry collected himself. His parents and siblings had totally put the packages out of their minds as soon as they reached Long Island many months earlier. And now, over the course of a two-minute conversation, an IDF soldier’s brother had come to inform them that the care packages were received. What’s more, the two met on the same bus at the same time, even though hundreds of buses passed through the neighborhood every day! What an amazing display of hashgahah peratit (Divine Providence)!

To his family’s delight, Harry informed them of the incredible encounter he had on the bus in Jerusalem. They all knew that it was a message from Hashem that their hesed mission was a success.

Mrs. Helen Fuchs of A Package from Home can be contacted at (917) 560-9239.

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Message from Above

My mother was born in Kentucky in the early 1900s. When she was just seven years old, her father contracted a terrible case of pneumonia and passed away soon afterwards, leaving his wife widowed with six small orphans to care for. It was a tragic end to a short life.

Although I never had the privilege of knowing my grandfather, Alfred Esses a”h, I always dreamed of organizing an event dedicated to his memory. After a few weeks of brainstorming, I finally decided to host a package party in order to raise money for a widow and her six small orphans. I knew that all the mitzvot from the day would go to his merit, and I felt very fortunate to be doing something special and eternal for the grandfather that I never knew. Thank Gd, the party was a great success.

The day after the package party, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for my son. I came very late for my appointment, and so I rushed to write my son’s name on the sign-in sheet to reserve my place in line. And then I saw it. Every single name on the sign in sheet had been crossed out, except for one. The only name on the list was… Alfred Esses.

I knew that my grandfather was coming down to this world to thank me for the mitzvah that I had done for him just the day before. If I had come to the appointment earlier, I would not have seen the name on the chart. If I had come even a few minutes later, the nurse would have crossed the name off the list. I had arrived for my appointment at the exact time that Hashem wanted me to, to receive a personal thank you from my grandfather above.

You never know how one mitzvah can shake the heavens!

-Barbra Gindi

That fateful summer day was laden with open miracles, and because of it, I am forever changed.

On that warm July morning, I planned to head to Deal, NJ to visit my sister-in-law who had given birth a few days before. Before I left Brooklyn, I took a handful of pennies out of my pocket and deposited them into the tiny wooden tzedakah box that I always keep in the glove compartment.

I finally got to Deal and had a pleasant visit with my sister-in-law and her newborn. I said goodbye, and drove all the way down Monmouth Drive to where it intersects with Ocean Avenue. I inched my way up ever so slowly, prepared to make a left turn, when just ahead, I noticed that a school bus was stopped, letting children off. There were a bunch of cars waiting behind the bus, and I thought that I was in the clear, as the cars would sit patiently until the bus began driving. Well, I was wrong, because as I made the left turn, one of the cars swerved around the bus and rammed directly into the passenger side door.

I clenched the steering wheel as my car was catapulted several feet into the air. The car flipped over four times and was completely out of control as it spun around in, what seemed like, a hundred different directions. My eyes were open the entire time, and I sensed the fragility of life as the world turned before me. Yet, even though I was teetering on the line between life and death, I was filled with a sense of calm throughout the accident. Something told me that I would be okay. I knew that I would survive.

Suddenly, everything came to an abrupt halt when the car touched down, halfway in the street and halfway on a freshly manicured lawn. In that exact moment, I felt something land on me. There it was, that tiny wooden tzedakah box where I had placed those cents just hours before, sitting right side up in my lap. I knew that Hashem was sending me a message loud and clear: “Tzedakah tatzil mimavet – Charity saves from death.”

My phone had flown out of the sunroof and every window in the car was shattered. My car was bent in half and completely totaled. Hatzalah arrived on the scene immediately, and a medic had to pull me out of the broken window. I had shards of glass all over my body, but I did not have even one small scratch. I was perfectly okay. Hashem had pulled me out of the clutches of death, and I truly believe that it was due to the merit of the tzedakah that I gave that morning.

-F. Yedid

By Frances Haddad
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