It was 1960, I had just finished my Israeli military service and came to the US to join the family jewelry business, which was partly run from there. I worked alongside my uncle in our Manhattan branch, where I had several customers from the Chabad community. One day, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka – the Rebbe’s wife – came by our office to buy some pearls. She came alone, driving her own car without any airs about her. I didn’t yet know who she or the Rebbe were, but after finding out, I thought it was an honor to have served her.
I don’t know how the Rebbetzin heard about us, or why she specifically chose to buy from us, when there were Chabad chasidim in the industry. My guess is that it had something to do with her deep sense of modesty and with her desire to avoid any special treatment or honor on account of her status. I believe she came to us precisely because we were not connected with Chabad.
I was impressed with our Chabad customers more generally: They were joyful people who always seemed to be radiating love. After a while, I decided that I would like to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I had a cousin by the name of Aharon Shalomov who had himself become close to Chabad, and in 1962 he helped set up my first meeting with the Rebbe.
I arrived at the Chabad headquarters on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, where I met the Rebbe’s secretary, Rabbi Klein. He gave me my initiation, instructing me to write, in whatever language I was comfortable, a letter specifying my name and my mother’s name, as well as the area in which I was seeking the Rebbe’s blessing. Two or three hours later, I was called to enter the Rebbe’s room.
This audience with the Rebbe stirred up profound emotions within me. On walking in, I handed my letter to the Rebbe, which he read, looking up from time to time to gaze at me. When he finished, he gave me a blessing. (more…)