Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coincidences

This week has been full of them.  I had the privilege of accompanying a group of Livnot volunteers to the Ethiopian Absorption Center.  There are actually three such centers in Tzfat, as Yehoshua Sivan explained to us before we set out.

We broke into smaller groups when we arrived.  A few guys found playmates by the entrance and a game of soccer was underway within seconds.  It didn't matter that the players were all new to Israel and couldn't verbally communicate.  Sports are international languages.  I continued with another group deeper into the complex.  Unfamiliar smells wafted through open doors and a slight, middle-aged woman carried a large pot--half her size--from one plain building to another.

We stepped into the after-school gan yeladim (kindergarten) and found 37 curious little faces staring back at ours.  Their teacher, simultaneously warm and stern, was accompanied by a bat sherut (a young woman fulfilling her national service as an alternative to army service).  Each volunteer was given a table of several children and an activity such as a puzzle, card game, or coloring sheets.  I was about to lower myself into the tiny seat at my table when I felt a tug at my skirt.

"Shayna!"  I whirled around surprised.  Who here knows my name?  It was a little girl, a petite four year-old with a sweet, crooked smile.  I hugged her and instantly spotted the other familiar face in the room.  To keep Tzfat's schools from being overwhelmed by the absorption of immigrants, many are taken by bus to surrounding towns each day.  We have two Ethiopian children in Kfar Shammai's gan and, out of three centers and many places to go in this one, I ended up spending the afternoon with them.

Earlier that morning, I had made it to the bus stop a little early and stuck my hand out to see who might give me a lift.  Car after car passed, then finally one stopped.  It was a man from the regional council who I had wanted to write a letter to.  After those five minutes until tzomet Meron (Meron junction), I was able to check that letter off my to-do list.  I got out of the car, crossed the street, then the bus came and took me the rest of the way to Tzfat.

Mid-morning, I took a snack break at work.  A few people were chatting by the kitchen and one pointed to his shoe, showing how the sole had already halfway fallen off.

"This is going to look funny," I said as I went over to my shopping cart, which I had dragged with me to work that day so I could go grocery shopping afterwards.  As many of you know, I have a gemach (second-hand thrift store).  Sometimes I'll find something in it that I think would be useful where I work, mostly backpacks and shoes.  Zippers bust and shoes get holes at the most inconvenient times, especially right before a big hike.
These shoes didn't fit quite so perfectly

I pulled out a pair of shoes from my little cart and they were just the right size.  So many coincidences.

In Hebrew, the word for coincidence is mikreh, spelled: מקרה (mem-kuf-resh-hey).  If you rearrange the letters just a bit, you get: 'רק מה (resh-kuf-mem-hay), which means "only from Hashem (G-d)."

It happened again yesterday.  I needed to speak with two different neighbors but didn't find the time between working a full day and being with my family.  Then guess who took the same bus at the same time when I was heading home?  Both of them!  If we could just rearrange our perspectives a bit, we could see that there is order in all this chaos.  Everything is only from G-d.  We're in good hands.