Although I come from a family of Radomsker chasidim, I was educated in non-Chasidic schools – I attended Torah Vodaas in New York through high school and then the Telz yeshivah in Cleveland, and I received my rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the legendary adjudicator of Jewish law in America.
Still, I gravitated to Chasidic courts, and when trouble hit, this is where I went for help.
On Shabbat, in the winter of 1968, while we were living in Montreal, my wife, Frieda, gave birth to our second child, Yossi. She had gone into labor on Friday morning and we arrived at the hospital early to avoid any unnecessary violations of the holy day. The baby was delivered that night without complications and we were very happy.
I went home to sleep and returned after morning prayers, as the hospital – Jewish General – was within walking distance. But when I arrived, I immediately saw that there were problems. The baby had been placed in an incubator and he was wired up to all kinds of instruments. He seemed to be having trouble breathing, and the doctors and nurses were running back and forth, looking very concerned.
The baby’s condition did not improve during the day, and so our pediatrician informed me that Yossi would have to be transferred to Children’s Hospital that evening, because here they couldn’t figure out what the problem was.
While my wife stayed behind at Jewish General, I followed the ambulance that transferred the baby to the other hospital where he was taken into the emergency room. After a long time passed, when I assume they were checking him over, a doctor came out to speak to me. “Mr. Abramczyk, we have to be realistic,” he said. “This child might not survive the night.” Those were his exact words, and they sent me into shock.
“What should I do?” I asked, trembling. (more…)