“In 2005 I was injured in an accident and, as a result, was confined to a wheelchair for several months.”

Story by: Mendy Pellin

How would you react to someone who sat down as soon as they started reading the Rebbe’s letter under the chuppah? When I saw it happen, I was overwhelmed with deep admiration and respect for the man; everyone else’s reaction was quite to the contrary.

In 2005 I was injured in an accident and, as a result, was confined to a wheelchair for several months. Steps and narrow doorways became my enemies. Not wanting to be seen in my “old man’s chair,” I avoided it like the plague. I pushed myself around (inconspicuously) on an office chair when possible and generally stayed away from public events. However, my physical impairment was not going to stop me from celebrating the wedding of my good friend, Rabbi Chaim Danzinger, in Pittsburgh.

Arriving at the chuppah early, I transferred from the “nebach chair” to a folding chair in the front row and asked a friend to hide evidence of the other chair.

The seats quickly filled up. Sitting next to me was an old friend from the Ukraine, Rabbi Akiva Rominofsky. We didn’t speak each other’s language, but we caught up with hand gestures and a broken Yiddish that neither of us understood.

As the proceedings got underway, my heart skipped a beat when I heard the MC ask everyone to please rise for the reading of the Rebbe’s letter. I couldn’t. I watched everyone stand up as I helplessly sat in the front row.

After the first few words were uttered, someone from behind gave me the classic, “Nu-uh! Stand up!” Without hesitation Rabbi Akiva Rominofsky, realizing what was happening, sat down next to me. He didn’t want me to be the only one to get dirty looks. The two of us just sat there in the front row shrugging off all the “nu-uhs” from the crowd.

It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. A man that lives for the Lubavitcher Rebbe day and night sat down during the Rebbe’s letter so a fellow Jew wouldn’t feel alone in a helpless situation. That gesture was a sign of true leadership and heroism.


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