Dirt On Your Boots

I’m excited for the holiday of Sukkot, which begins tonight. I’m looking forward to enjoying meals and conversation in the Sukkah with family, friends, students and alumni. The weather is perfect for it! But I’m also thinking about the residents of Boulder County. Tzipah and I are friends with the Chabad Rabbi and Rebbetzin at UC-Boulder, Yisroel and Leah Wilhelm. They report that the place is an absolute mess, and they are working hard to help stranded people and others in need of assistance. They have organized a website where locals can volunteer to help.

I made a donation to help their worthy efforts at www.JewishFloodRelief.com, and invite you to join me. Thanks to 1976 QC alum Corey (Gedalye) & Rose Breier for making a donation in my honor!

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I spent a fair bit of time yesterday, zipping around Queens on my bike. You see, my car was in the shop. Not that I mind riding my bike — in fact, the weather was beautiful and moreover, I love bike riding!

Some time in the morning, my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. I picked up.

“Hi, this is a strange request,” began the voice on the other line.

“May I ask who’s calling?” I queried.

“I’m a doctor at Flushing Hospital. You see, I’m on a 24 hour shift, and I can’t leave the hospital. The problem is that I forgot my tallis andtefillin at home. So I thought I would look up the closest Chabad… is there any chance that you would  be able — I know it’s asking a lot — to bring me a pair?”

“Sure, no problem. I’d be happy to. I’ll ride over on my bike. Oh, and I noticed that you’re calling from an 847 number… are you from Chicago?”


“Me too.”

“Waaaaiiiiiit a minute,” said the good doctor. “Is Aaron Wertheimer your brother?!”


“I was in his class in high school! And my older brother was in your class!”

So anyway, I hopped on my trusty bike, rode over to Flushing Hospital, locked my bike out front and went in with the tallis and tefillin for the “random” doctor who called me after finding my name on google.

It went from being two strangers, to two people who were already connected. In fact, the doctor remembered playing basketball at our house with my brother and me!

When I arrived home, I had a quick snack and hopped back on my bike to ride to the auto mechanic to pick up my car. It was a fun ride!

Oh, and did I mention that I also got ahold of a Sukkah on a bike? Yup, check out the picture below. It’s pretty awesome. I can bike around with a Sukkah in tow! I will be using it over the course of the holiday of Sukkot (which begins tonight) to travel (note: travel by bicycle is only permitted on certain days of the holiday) and share the holiday with students on campus and elsewhere in Queens.

One of the great things about Sukkot, is that anyone can spend time in a Sukkah. What I mean is that the Sukkah accepts you as you are. There is a Chassidic saying that you go into the Sukkah “with the dirt on your boots.”PediSukkah

The Sukkah is an all-encompassing mitzvah; you enter the Sukkah, and you are literally surrounded entirely by the mitzvah. Furthermore, the Sukkah connects all of us; after all, the dirt on your boots is the same as the dirt on my boots 🙂

Happy Sukkot!