This was an amazing Shabbos for me. Besides the usual amazing stuff (davening, sichos, Bosi LeGani, Bava Metzia, a pillow fight), I met some interesting and amazing people.
For starters, I met a frum guy from Brooklyn who travelled with a Bobover chossid through Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq “under-cover” (pretending to be Canadian). Without knowledge of Arabic (the guys says, “Never let language be a barrier for travelling”). Sometimes going through anti-Israeli rallies. Not seeing a single American throughout the whole trip, let alone a Jew. Besides almost getting themselves arrested in Syria and then being interrogated for an hour or so by Israeli police (they went to Sderot after all this), the guy told me the trip was very pleasant. He never felt threatened (obviously, he didn’t reveal his identity) and saw some nice things.
Not an advice. Just very interesting dude. By the way, the Bobover chossid apparently knew nothing about the Middle East.
The second interesting guy was a lawyer from Byelorus who knew every single detail about every single subway in the world. This is not something I can relay through a blog — you had to be there.
But the guy meeting whom was beyond interesting or amazing was Yakov Ephraim Parisi — a former Evangelical Pastor who was born a Catholic and ended up a convert to Judaism and a Lubavitch Chossid after going through a hell of twenty years in his journey towards Yiddishkeit. I will write more about him tomorrow, after I get more sleep, but for now you can listen to the interview in the link above. I just want to say that all of us listening to his story were absolutely blown away by the Pintele Yid.
It wasn’t just a simple story of “Priest starts looking into roots of ‘Old Testament’ and ends up converting to Judaism” (which in itself would be pretty remarkable). The absolute emunah pshutah and self-sacrifice he and his wife went through on their way to Judaism are remarkable.
Plus, some nice stories — e.g., about carrying a cross out of a church or learning Torah Ohr with misnagdim. This was nuts even by my rabbi’s standards. Stay tuned…