Rabbis Shalom Greenberg and Laibel Shemtov, who are visiting Jewish inmates in Texas for the Aleph Institute, thought they arrived had early at their hotel to take care of their growing piles of laundry. But an inexplicable quarter shortage and a city-wide search for coins led them to a different find.
By Shalom Greenberg
Some people question G-ds involvement in their lives. Others don’t have doubts since they experience constant reminders of divine providence. Laibel Shemtov, my companion, is one such person.
We arrived at our hotel in Huntsville, Texas fairly early today, so we had ample time to address the growing need to clean our dirty laundry. No problem, the hotel has a laundry room right down the hall. All we need is some quarters. I head to the front desk to find out where we can break our bills. “Usually it’s right here” replied the receptionist “but today I only have 50 cents.” Instead, she gave Laibel directions to our best bet, the closest gas station, and off he went.
The ever-optimistic Laibel was disappointed to discover that there were no quarters available there. Neither were there any in the next gas station, nor the supermarket or corner store. The banks were closed for Isru Chag July 4th. “There is a coin shortage” was a common response, or “they’re not available for exchange”. He probably tried nine or ten shops until returning empty-handed – an hour later. Pulling back into the parking lot he spotted the motel next door – not that he expected to find change there, but “you never know”.
So, he takes the detour and asks the receptionist of our competitor for change. “Sure, no problem. Here you go,” she answers a surprised Laibel, as he takes the handful of coins and thanks her profusely. He then turned to go.
“I like your yarmulka” she calls from behind. Laibel – by now even more surprised – spins back around and shoots out the typical Chabad retort: “Are you Jewish?”
She is “not quite” Jewish but she knows some Jews. “…and my husband’s Jewish.”
Ooh. Where does he live?
“He lives in Beaumont.” Where in Beaumont?
“He’s incarcerated in Stiles.”
Stiles? That’s a prison we visited last week!
Laibel then explains that we’re actually here to help people like her husband, and pulls out his phone to update our contact in Aleph about the turn of events.
Turns out that she had never heard of Aleph before, and aleph never heard of her husband before. But the services and opportunities offered by Aleph will now be made readily available for but one more fellow Jew, thanks to the “Coin Shortage of Huntsville, TX”.
No One Alone. No One Forgotten.
She could not hide her excitement: “What a coincidence!” she exclaimed. But for Laibel (and by now the receptionist too) it’s another fascinating reminder of Divine Providence. It wasn’t for naught that no one in his first ten stops couldn’t help us.
A half-hour later Laibel meets the receptionist back in our hotel. “Still need quarters?” she asks, “my boss just called and gave the okay to dispense them for laundry….”
The Aleph Institute is looking for Bochurim to go to prisons across the country to help with minyanim for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The prisons need the information on the volunteers ASAP to run the clearances. Please call or text Dovid Raigorodsky at 323-336-3858 for more details.