A Shabbat Story:
The Newark Riots and a Match Made in Heaven
By Yossy Gordon
My uncle, Rabbi Sholom Gordon of blessed memory, was a Lubavitch emissary in New Jersey, starting in the early forties. Over the years, he touched thousands of lives.
Sometime around 1960, the mother of a former student of Uncle Sholom approached him with a problem. Her daughter, who had reached marriageable age several years before, was having a hard time finding a shidduch (match). Aware of the Rebbe's greatness, the desperate mother asked Sholom to arrange a meeting for her with the Rebbe. Sholom complied, and even drove the mother, along with her son who was accompanying her, to meet the Rebbe, of righteous memory.
"When G‑d sends her bashert... then I will close the store"My uncle waited outside. When the mother emerged from the Rebbe's office, she looked upset. "What happened?" Sholom inquired. "Well," answered the mother, "I went in to the Rebbe and asked him for a blessing for my daughter's shidduch. I was surprised when the Rebbe began to ask me questions about my life. He asked me what our source of livelihood is. I told him that we have a very successful store in Newark. The Rebbe asked me if the store is open on Shabbat. I told him that it is.
"Then, and this is what I really do not understand, the Rebbe suggested that since we are financially secure, we should close our store on Shabbat and that G‑d will then send our daughter her bashert (intended one). I countered that we need the store to provide for our daughter in case something happens to us and she does not get married. When G‑d sends her bashert... then I will close the store. The Rebbe disagreed.
"Rabbi Gordon," continued the woman, "I am from Europe. I know chassidic rebbes. I thought they just gave blessings and wanted a donation. I didn't come here for business advice..."
Years went by. 1967 arrived and with it came the Newark Riots and violence and vandalism. The store owned by Sholom's former student's parents was among those destroyed in the melee. Already nearing retirement age, and with her husband having passed away shortly beforehand, the mother decided not to rebuild the store.
The store was finally closed on Shabbat.
Within a few months, the daughter met her bashert. Today, thank G‑d, she is the mother of a well-respected family.