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Wrong Turn Leads to Bar Mitzvah


A truck driver who took a different route home found a lost pair of heirloom Tefillin…and a Chabad family who gave him a grand Bar Mitzvah.

Azriela Jaffe – Mishpacha Magazine

Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, kashrus administrator for the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC), and the executive director of the Association of Kosher Organizations (AKO), travels the world as one of the busiest executives in the kosher business today.

There really is no “slow time” in his packed schedule, but two weeks before Pesach this year, when, as an administrator of the CRC, he was responsible for the kashrus of one of the biggest Pesach hotel programs in the world, KMR, he was scarcely sleeping.

That’s when a phone call came his way that not only changed his life, but that of another Yid as well.

“I was in my office,” Rabbi Fishbane recalls, “when the secretary buzzed me…

‘Rabbi, I have a Rabbi Yitzchok Hecht on the phone. He says it’s very important he speak to you immediately.’ ”

Rabbi Fishbane gets calls day and night from people who say they must speak to him immediately. Such is the world of kashrus. And if Rabbi Fishbane has earned any reputation over his years with the CRC, it’s one of accessibility and responsiveness. He picked up the phone.

“Rabbi Fishbane, it’s Rabbi Hecht. Did you lose your tefillin?”

This wasn’t the phone call Rabbi Fishbane was expecting, but a chill ran down his spine. In fact, a dozen years ago, he was in Las Vegas working for the CRC when his precious tefillin, inherited from his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, and his tallis, purchased for him by his wife for his chasunah, were stolen out of his valise in his car. His grandfather, Reb Sholem Romanovski z”l, was niftar two weeks before Rabbi Fishbane was born, and he was the first grandson to be named after him. A revenge on the Nazis.

“The tefillin parshiyos were written by such a choshuv sofer, when we told him that the tefillin were stolen, he fainted,” Rabbi Fishbane recalled. Now it was Rabbi Fishbane’s turn to almost faint.

Was it possible that he would be reunited with his precious tefillin? Who was this Rabbi Hecht on the phone, and how did he come to find his stolen tefillin?

A circuitous route, for sure.

The Road Taken

A Jew with limited religious background, Josh D., a professional driver for the Wynn Las Vegas, a luxury hotel, one day took a new route home and, by chance, stopped at a yard sale. Among the junk, he noticed a pair of tefillin and a tallis.

Although he didn’t know much about Judaism, he knew that the items were significant and that they might have some real value to their previous owner. For $20, he bought them — along with a pair of roller skates.


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