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David and Gail Goldberg

23 March 2023

Gail Goldberg

My husband and I both grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in middle-class Jewish families. We dated in high school, reconnected again later on, and got married in 1965.

My first pregnancy went okay – for a while. But then we learned that the baby was not developing fully. The doctors didn’t know why, and all I know is that I went into labor, and had a baby that I never saw: It was a stillbirth at seven months.

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It was a depressing experience, but we were still newly married and still planned on having children. We moved, and a couple years later I got pregnant again. I had a new doctor, a new hospital, and we were also increasing our Jewish observance after joining a new synagogue with a wonderful rabbi. But that pregnancy also ended up as a stillbirth.

David Goldberg

By this time, we had moved to Washington, D.C., where we were both working for the CIA. The doctors had advised us against pursuing another pregnancy, as there was a potential risk for my wife due to some health problems she was experiencing as a diabetic, so we decided to try to adopt a child. We applied, and were placed on a short list. But when we decided to move back to Chicago, it turned out that this ended the adoption procedure we had begun in Washington, and we had to start over again.

In Chicago, whether by serendipity or Divine Providence, we ended up in the same neighborhood as Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Hecht, an emissary of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, who also had a relationship with Gail’s brother, Roy. Since by this point we had become more sensitive to Halachic observance, I asked him about some of the relevant laws pertaining to adoption.

Rabbi Hecht looked at me and said, “Before you adopt, there is a rabbi in New York I’d like you to see.”

At this point I was pretty clueless about Chabad, but Rabbi Hecht arranged for us to have an audience with the Rebbe. So in 1969, Gail and I flew out to New York, and dropped into what I can only describe as a parallel universe: We stayed with a family of ten, and the people there were all very nice and accommodating, but it was unlike anything we had ever seen. We attended a farbrengen held by the Rebbe in honor of the 19th of Kislev, and I remember that the singing and the excitement in that room reached an energy level I had never seen before.

Then it came time to prepare to meet the Rebbe in private.

It was a Sunday night, and the anteroom to the Rebbe’s office was packed. There were probably thirty or forty people waiting there for their audiences, some of them quite prestigious dignitaries. Rabbi Binyomin Klein, the Rebbe’s secretary, served as the gatekeeper, nervously looking at his watch and shuffling people in and out of the office.

Finally, it was our turn.

Those stories about the Rebbe’s penetrating blue eyes that look right into a person’s soul are absolutely true. We knew we were in the presence of someone special. We explained what we were there for, and we also handed the Rebbe a letter from Rabbi Hecht describing our situation. Meanwhile, Rabbi Klein began opening the door because we were taking too much time.

The Rebbe looked at us and said: “You will have a boy and a girl… Raise them in Yiddishkeit, and come back to me in one year with good news.”

It was probably no more than ten minutes, but it changed our lives dramatically.

Gail Goldberg

We had to run to the airport after that. Rebbetzin Chaya Sarah Hecht had said that we should write down everything – every word the Rebbe said – so that we wouldn’t forget, and I remember writing in the cab on the way to the airport. We came home, and I got pregnant right away, and then my son was born: fully formed, wonderful, and perfect.

“It’s a boy!” they exclaimed.

“Yes,” I said. “I know. I know it’s a boy.” There was no way to contain the strange, wonderful feeling I felt then; it was like I was bursting with spiritual oneness.

The hospital staff kept asking us to give a name, and although the whole thing was so overwhelming, we did have a name in mind from the previous pregnancies. Just then, Rabbi Hecht called us at the hospital and we mentioned to him that we were thinking of a name.

“What is it?” he asked. We had been considering Lev or Levi but we weren’t sure.

“Ahh,” he said when we told him. “The Rebbe’s father’s name was Levi Yitzchak.” And so that’s his name: Levi Yitzchak.

The Rebbe said we’d have a boy, and we had a boy. “Now I’m going to have a girl,” I assumed when I became pregnant again, “because that’s how it goes.” But instead, I had a miscarriage. “The Rebbe didn’t say a word about this!” I thought. “Maybe I should go to see him again.”

Shortly after, I went to a women’s conference in New York, run by the Lubavitch Women’s and Girl’s Organization. At one point, the Rebbe spoke to all the attendees, and then all the women went up to him, one by one. We all wrote down any questions we had in advance, and I gave him my note recounting what had happened. “What am I supposed to do now?” I wanted to know. “Is this the way it has to be?”

The Rebbe had the kindest look. Just being in front of him was wonderful. He would look through you, without expecting anything of you, and then it seemed that the words just came to him, without having to reach for them.

The Rebbe shook his head. “Go home,” he replied, “and send good news.”

“Okay, we’re still on the path here,” I thought. “We just had a little detour.” I went home, and got pregnant with my wonderful daughter, Batya Ruth, right away.

David Goldberg

So, that is our miracle story.

Sometimes, when people ask me about my level of my faith, I say that my faith is actually fairly shaky, but my belief in Hashem is not necessarily based upon faith. It’s based upon a certain level of empirical evidence, and then I relate this story. This isn’t some kind of blind faith, but something that happened to me; I could choose to ignore what I saw or come up with an alternative narrative but that would strike me as being the height of ingratitude, as well as being its own kind of blindness. As to what was this gift or power that the Rebbe had, I won’t even speculate. I can only tell you my experience.

After retiring from the CIA, David served as a business executive for a refrigeration manufacturing company for thirty years and Gail, who passed away in 2021, worked as an artist. They were interviewed in their home in July of 2014.