The Rabbi…

Cooper Davidson didn’t know much about his Rabbi. He knew the Rabbi was married to a beautiful woman and they led the local Jewish community services on Friday night and Saturdays and for all the High Holidays but their interactions outside of the synagogue were limited.

Rabbi Monse was Orthodox and that meant he went into New York City about once a month to get kosher food and supplies. If anybody in the Jewish community of thirty six people needed anything, they would put in a request and the Rabbi would graciously bring back their orders. New York City was about two and a half hours from where Cooper and the community lived and besides the Rabbi and his wife there was only two other families who kept kosher in their home.

Cooper was a builder and he loved living in his small town. He had gotten married to a wonderful girl and they had built a very comfortable home on the one hundred acre farm that he owned. As a Jewish guy who had lived his whole life in the community, Cooper had become the de-facto leader of the Jews who lived in their town. When Rabbi Monse needed something from the community he would communicate it to Cooper who who tell his wife Rebecca and she would get the word out.

Rabbi Monse and his wife Deborah had fallen into the community. They were passing through on their way to Deborah’s parents in New York City when they stopped for gas at the one gas station in town. It just so happened that the gas station was owned and operated by Ralphie Klein, and when the Rabbi came in to pay for his gas, Ralphie engaged him in conversation. He told them about the Beth Zion, the beautiful synagogue in town that was hardly getting used, and about the small Jewish community who got together often, and really liked each other.

What started out as a short conversation ended with Rabbi Monse moving to town with his wife and becoming the Rabbi of the Beth Zion. They bought a house that Cooper had built for a reduced rate and settled in to life. They were pleasant and decent and people Jewish and Non-Jewish seemed to really like them. The local Pastor and the Rabbi had become friends. Nobody knew how the Rabbi made any money, as he never discussed getting paid to be the Rabbi with the community. It seemed he was doing his Rabbinical work pro bono. He was delighted with the keys to the shul and the ability to lead services and spend time studying.

The Rabbi never missed a Shabbat and he and his wife made Friday Night Dinners at the Synagogue once a month for the community. The synagogue was packed and the camaraderie was amazing.

Herbie Shein who owned Shein’s Grocery Fresh Food Market believed that the Rabbi should be paid, so the community got together and voted on giving him a stipend for running the synagogue. The Rabbi and Deborah were thankful for the generous gesture. The Rabbi however suggested the money be used to maintain the Synagogue and as an emergency fund for anything the community might need in the future. Herbie told the Rabbi it was up to him to use the money as he saw fit.

Things in town were good, people got along, a few new Jewish families moved in and there was a real feeling of community. The Rabbi and Deborah became more accessible, but they still seemed somewhat enigmatic.

Cooper Davidson was going to New York City for a conference for builders and since he was going to be there for a couple of days, he asked the Rabbi if there was anything he wanted him to pick up. Much to his surprise, the Rabbi asked if he could come with. He would stay with Deborah’s parents and pick up their Kosher food order and there was a couple of books regarding the Talmud he wanted to find.

The drive to New York was pleasant and Cooper thought it was the ideal time to find out more about Rabbi Monse. He had googled him and found out that the Rabbi had graduated from Yeshiva University after that there wasn’t a lot of information.

‘’Rabbi, you and Deborah have been amazing additions to our little shtetl, but nobody knows anything about you, except that you graduated from Yeshiva University.’’ The Rabbi smiled, and took a long pause before he spoke. ‘’My life and Deborah’s has been about unlocking the code to finding true happiness and I think we’ve done it. I pray, I study Torah, I am with my wife, and we found a genuinely wonderful Jewish community, so my life is very good. I think Gd willing this year Deborah will get pregnant and our roots will become even more established.’’

Cooper was delighted with the news. ‘’Rabbi, you seem to have broken the mold, you and Deborah live relatively quiet lives and it seems you don’t want anything from anybody. You are both very giving and we had to approach you about paying you to become our official Rabbi. I don’t know how you do it, but we are very grateful you found us.’’

Once again it was obvious that Rabbi Monse was thinking before answering. ‘’As a Rabbi you believe in Gd. I have always let Gd guide us. I met Deborah as I was graduating from Yeshiva. She came from a very well established and prominent line of Jews who had bought and sold Real Estate in New York City and as a result they did very well for themselves. When Deborah turned twenty one she received a major inheritance which took money pressures away from us forever. I loved being a Rabbi, but I also enjoyed business. One of my friends at the Yeshiva moved to Israel and developed an app. He wanted people to be able to find their dogs if they got lost. I invested in it, and it took off and was bought out by a major pet company. Needless to say Gd once again provided for us, so we didn’t have to worry about money pressures. We are set, but there was something missing. I always wanted to be a Rabbi to a congregation but I had no experience. Finding a congregation that wants you is not easy. I was going to New York City with Deborah and we needed gas and there was Ralphie, I think he was an emissary from Gd because after hearing about your community, we knew we wanted to be a part of it. When I was given the opportunity to become a full fledged Rabbi, I grabbed it. I am still learning as I go, but I love it. I love everything about our lives and to tell the truth, we have found complete happiness.’

Cooper Davidson understood completely. He had been offered many opportunities to build larger buildings in New York city and surrounding areas but he was happy to build his one hundred homes a year and be the big fish in the small pond. Happiness was elusive but it could certainly be found.

As they were getting closer to New York City, crossing the Verezano Bridge, the Rabbi confirmed the time the would leave New York so they could drive home together. Everything was arranged as they headed to the Javits center.

Just before dropping the Rabbi off, Cooper thanked him for enriching all their lives by choosing to become the Rabbi at the Beth Zion. The Rabbi smiled and responded ‘’When you have faith, when you believe that everything in life happens for a reason, then we have to believe we were meant to find Beth Zion and we were supposed to become the Rabbi and Rebitzen. Deborah and I couldn’t be more satisfied with our lives and for that we Thank Gd everyday. It is our lives that have been enriched by you and the community.’’

The Rabbi got our of Cooper’s Cadillac Escalade and disappeared into the crowd. As Cooper drove to his conference he could only think one thought, sometimes even in small towns Angels live among us.

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Alan J. Schwarz

Alan J. Schwarz

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.