Insider's View | Opinion | Religion & Jewish Life

NY meeting not chance but divine providence

Some people believe we live in a world where everything can be seen and touched. They buy into scientific explanations and find it hard to believe we live in a complex world where there’s much we can’t explain. Here is a true story of divine providence or in Hebrew, hashgacha pratit — divine supervision of the individual.

In 2006, I attended a professional development workshop in Florida. As I walked into the lecture hall, a rabbi, whom I’d not previously met, greeted me with hugs and smiles and said, “My brother from another mother!”  “Excuse me?” I looked at him with an amused expression, “I do not think we have met.” He smiled and told me that I stood next to him at Mount Sinai as we received the Torah. Well, after we got to know each other, or should I say, “meet again,” the rabbi, whose name is Achiya Delouya, found out that I had served in the Israeli Defense Forces and asked me if I knew anyone in the armored division. I apologized and explained that besides having a brother who served there, I really did not know anyone there. When I asked him why he’d asked me if I had connections there, he explained that he has a friend who developed a fireproof vest that he sold to the American military, and the rabbi convinced him to sell the vests to the Israeli Army for cost.

A year passed, and I attended another professional development workshop from the same organization — this time at Columbia University in New York.  Rabbi Delouya was also there and asked me if I remembered his request. I felt bad that I’d forgotten to follow up, and told him that he could Google the number of the Israeli Ministry of Defense Mission to the United States, thinking that could be a good lead. The rabbi handed me his business card and asked me to assist him.

After hours of studying, I went up to my room planning to go to bed. Just then my phone rang. On the phone was Ricki, a close friend of my wife’s, who invited me to come to her house for dinner.  I was really tired and tried politely to postpone our meeting for the next time I would visit the Big Apple. Ricki was persistent as usual, and after an hour, I was sitting in her dining room enjoying a spectacular Iraqi dinner. The door opened and an Israeli couple joined us. We ate, laughed, and benched (said the blessing over the food.) Before I left to go back to the university, I remembered the rabbi’s request, and asked the man if he knew anyone who might know someone in the Israeli Defense Mission. We were saying goodbye, the Israeli way ­— which means that we said goodbye, moved out to the lobby, and continued our conversation. There was silence in the room. “Do you know what I do for a living?” he asked me. “No,” I answered. (I had no clue.) “I am the head of the mission!”  he responded. I took out the business card I was given earlier, handed it to him and asked him to call the rabbi first thing in the morning.

There were 7.909 million people living in New York City in 2007 and more than 32,000 of them were Israeli-Americans; and I met with the right person at the right time.

It is now 11 years after that meeting. Somewhere on the Israeli borders, tank crew members are better protected due to that dinner in New York.

Amir Eden is the director of the Weintraub
Israel Center.