Rabbi Chaim Itche Drizin was a shliach of the Rebbe at University of California, Berkeley, nearly four decades ago. He learned Chassidus with them and hosted them in his home. He was the one they turned to for all Jewish matters • Full Story
Rabbi Chaim Itche Drizin was a shliach of the Rebbe at University of California, Berkeley, nearly four decades ago. He learned Chassidus with them and hosted them in his home. He was the one they turned to for all Jewish matters. Even the students’ parents knew R’ Drizin and knew that if G-d forbid a problem arose, they could talk to him.
It was a Friday and R’ Drazin was sitting in his office when his phone rang. On the line was someone who sounded agitated.
“Rabbi, I need your help urgently! A terrible thing happened. My daughter Adina who is at the university became friends with a black Christian and I found out that on Saturday night they are planning on flying to Hawaii to get married!”
The rabbi heard a choked sob as the father had a hard time continuing to talk.
“The guy wants her to convert and be baptized. Although we are not religious, marrying a non-Jew is out of the question! Who would have believed that such a terrible thing would happen to my daughter? In my worst dreams I never thought of this. Rabbi Drazin, please try to do something. We have given up. We spoke to her a lot but nothing helped. She is determined to go through with this. Maybe you can reach her and maybe she will listen to you. You are our last hope.”
R’ Drazin was shaken up by this call and wanted to help. But Shabbos was in six hours and the girl was in her fiancée’s house, a two hour drive away. It was uncertain whether he would make it back in time for Shabbos and anyway, who said they would even let him in? And even if they did, who said he would change her mind?
R’ Drazin was doubtful that he could do anything but an inner voice urged him to try. He told his wife about the sudden trip and prepared her for the possibility that she would have to spend Shabbos without him.
With two hours of driving behind him, he still had not arrived. He still had a long way to go to reach the town. He wondered why he had set out and considered returning home. What would he do all Shabbos in a Christian’s house and who says they would be willing to host him?
But the inner voice urged him to continue and so, without knowing why, R’ Drazin continued driving with a prayer in his heart.
He arrived at the Christian town. Religious symbols could be seen at nearly every house and made him feel uncomfortable. He was happy that he found the address easily.
“What do you want?” asked the black guy coldly.
“I am the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s emissary and I came to speak to Adina. Can I stay with you today and tomorrow?” he said confidently, though his heart was pounding.
To his great surprise, the man welcomed him in. But when Adina heard his reason for coming, she was furious.
“Don’t mix in to my private life! Let me live happily with the person I have chosen. It’s my decision and I’m not changing my mind,” she declared.
But her boyfriend was interested in listening. Throughout the night, the shliach tried to convince and explain how seriously wrong it was for a Jew to marry a non-Jew, but the two of them were unmoved.
“It is not right for you to change your religion before you learned about your own religion,” he said, trying another approach. “Before you think about another religion, spend a year studying Judaism and then you can make an informed decision.”
Over Shabbos, they debated the topic and as the hours passed, the shliach saw his efforts were in vain. They were not changing their minds. He regretted what he had done and wondered why he had even tried. Then he suddenly remembered that he had invited students to a Melaveh Malka after Shabbos and he was so far away. He felt terrible about the hasty decision he had made but tried to console himself by remembering that it was all by divine providence.
Motzaei Shabbos, R’ Drazin packed his belongings and got ready to politely say goodbye.
“One minute,” said Adina, moments before he was about to leave. “I decided that I want to spend a year studying about Judaism.”
The shliach stood there in amazement. He could not believe his ears. He quickly called the principal of the Chabad School for baalos t’shuva in Minnesota and registered Adina. In order to be sure that she would not change her mind, he took her to the airport himself and got her a ticket.
The trip to the airport passed in heavy silence. Each person was deep in thought.
Suddenly, Adina broke the silence and said, “Make no mistake. Your explanations did not move me at all. I still want to travel with my boyfriend to Hawaii and marry him.”
The shliach wondered what dissuaded her from leaving with him that night.
Adina then said the following amazing words:
“Fifteen years ago, when I was a little girl, my father decided to go to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and he took me along. It was a special experience. The Rebbe’s penetrating eyes looked deep into my soul. When I stood facing the Rebbe, he blessed me to be a good Jew. Afterward, he said the day would come when there would be a problem with my Judaism and then my father would call Chabad and get help.”
The shliach was astounded by this open miracle. Now he understood why he felt the strong need to make the trip, despite the difficulties.
Adina went on to say, “When you entered our home, I did not remember this at all. It was just when the Sabbath was over that I remembered what the Rebbe said. It’s prophecy! The Rebbe prophesied what would happen to me fifteen years later! I feel I cannot refuse the Rebbe.”
Today, Adina is a religious Jew and a mother of a beautiful Chassidic family.
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