Jewish tourists to Barbados used their recent vacation in Shevat 5766 as an opportunity for Jewish unity and growth.
Mr. Kenny Greenstein was determined to pray with a Minyan during his family’s vacation. A few months before their trip, he contacted Rabbi and Mrs. Benyaminson, who coordinate Jewish outreach and tourist services in Barbados. As the Greensteins would be traveling at the height of the tourist season, it was a great chance to get a Minyan together. Rabbi Benyaminson coordinated with several other tourists, helped them arrange to stay within walking distance of each other and sent two young Chabad men to bring and read from a Sefer Torah.
There was even more than a Minyan on the Shabbos following the 11th of Shevat. Mr. Greenstein graciously offered to host the services in his beautiful villa. The Chabad Bochurim spoke words of Torah, told stories and “Farbrenged”. New friendships were formed.
“I have been on a spiritual high since I got back,” says Mordy Mandelbaum, who traveled to Barbados with a group of friends.
Shuki Greer and his wife had made reservations at a hotel until Friday, but then realized that their flight back home was actually on Sunday, meaning that they would unexpectedly be staying in Barbados for Shabbos. It was Divine Providence that they were there for just this Shabbos! They moved to a hotel close to where the Minyanim would take place. “I had such an inspiring time in Barbados,” says Shuki. “We ended up having one of the most uplifting Shabbosim we could have imagined.” They enjoyed Davening in the beautiful setting and were very happy to be able to hear the reading from the Torah scroll. “Judaism is clearly alive and well in this Snif (branch) of paradise! Thank you to the Benyaminsons for setting this all up!”
The Bock family gave a donation towards the Bochurim coming and said that in its merit a certain woman should have a complete recovery. Rabbi Benyaminson had a friend of his request a blessing from the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach and she recovered!
“Thank you so much for all of your help with the Minyan,” said the Bocks. “The Greensteins are a wonderful and kind family and the Bochurim were great! Tizkeh Lemitzvot.”
On Sunday morning there was also a Minyan.
On Monday morning, the group gathered in the historic synagogue in Bridgetown for a moving prayer service and Torah reading. The synagogue was originally built by Portuguese Jews who had fled from the Inquisition and had been expelled from Brazil, over 300 years ago. In the recent years the Jewish community of Barbados restored the building and even excavated a Mikvah next to it! The words of the Torah reading resonated with the same words that were read there long ago by the Jews buried in the cemetery outside the synagogue. We constantly anticipate the true and complete Redemption through Moshiach, when they will come back to life and once again pray in this synagogue, which will be attached to the third Bais Hamikdash together with all the shuls in exile!
Many thanks to Mr. Oran and the executive committee of the Jewish community of Barbados, who arranged for this special prayer service to take place. The group was honored by the presence of Mr. Gilbert, a leader of the local community and consul of the Land of Israel, joining the Minyan. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert have been pillars of the community for decades and have been instrumental in restoring the old synagogue.
“After Davening on Monday morning, we put on Tefillin with a Jewish tourist who had come to see the shul,” said Chaim Grossbaum, one of the Chabad Bochurim. He and his friend, Mendel Namirovski, traveled around distributing Mezuzos and literature about Moshiach, as well cards about the Seven Noachide Commandments to the non-Jews. The Barbadian people are very spiritual and respond enthusiastically to this material.
The Bochurim also discovered a new Jewish family on the island! “We want to try to keep in touch with them, and help the kids go to a Jewish camp,” said Chaim.
Now the question was how to make sure there would be a Minyan and Torah reading the next Shabbos. Again, Hashem made it happen. Mr. Greenstein discovered that his friends were also in Barbados staying at the Hilton, which was walking distance from his villa! There was also a group of girls who had been staying in a different location but had decided to spend Shabbos at the Hilton so they would be within walking distance of other Jews observing Shabbos.
On Friday morning everyone was pleasantly surprised that another Chabad Bochur had flown in to help with the Minyan. Baruch Hashem, the Torah was read in the Hilton. It was especially significant because it was the Torah portion of Yisro, which includes the Ten Commandments.