Saved by Tefillin and a Jar of Pickles

When shliach Rabbi Avremi Slavaticki reached out to check on a friend whose jewelry store had come under attack, he was shocked to hear how the man fought off the bandits.

As told by Rabbi Avremi Slavaticki to

Several days ago, I came across a startling news tidbit that was circling on social media. According to headlines, an armed robbery at a neighborhood jewelry store went awry when the store’s owner attacked the bandits… with pickles.

I clicked on the link, curious to see how it was possible to stop gun-wielding criminals with nothing but a jar of pickles, and was shocked to see that the store that came under attack was that of a good friend, Mr. Alex Yakubov.

Before moving on shlichus to Decatur, GA, I lived 30 minutes away in the Sandy Springs neighborhood where the store is located. I used to visit Alex regularly to chat and help him lay tefillin. We’ve kept in touch, and I still venture out to see him from time to time.

After hearing the news, I called to check up on him and make sure he and his store were okay. We met up later that day, and as usual, I brought my tefillin along. As I wrapped the straps around Alex’s arm, he told me that our friends Marco Epstein and Aaron Blanks, who had begun visiting him when I moved away, were still coming by every Friday with their own tefillin.

“I know that it’s the tefillin that saved my store,” Alex said.

I asked him how he had come to be holding those jars of pickles, and the story he shared was one of remarkable hashgacha pratis. A chain of events that began with his refrigerator breaking resulted in him returning to his store at just the right moment with the bag of pickle jars, which he began hurling towards the armed men.

The robbers were caught by surprise; two escaped on foot, but the one holding the merchandise was held down until the police arrived. Baruch Hashem, Alex was able to retrieve the jewelry worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The others, who had been emptyhanded aside from their weapons, were apprehended several hours later.

As incredible as it seems, one man managed to fight off three armed hooligans with jars of pickles. But, as Alex says, those pickles were helped along… by the merit of his weekly mitzvah of putting on tefillin.

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