Apparently, my plans were to be walking around in Crocs recovering from the surgery to remove an ingrown toenail.
For Dr. Newmark, this would be the one time a year that he went to the Ohel.
The Rebbetzin, he says, was like a mother to him.
I am intrigued, but am distracted by the needle. I hate needles. I want to yell.
So I strike a deal.
“Listen, if you tell me stories while you’re doing this, everything will be fine. I’ll behave.”
So he agreed.
Throughout sterilizing the blades, numbing my toe, and performing the procedure, he spoke.
He wasn’t always religious. A single doctor in his late 30’s, he randomly got a house call to the Rebbetzin’s home.
He had no idea who Mrs. Schneerson was.
Soon after the visit, people informed him that the elderly woman he had visited was non-other than the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s wife.
So the next time he showed up, he apologized.
“I am sorry, Mrs. Schneerson. If I would have known who you are, I would have worn a yarmulke.”
“Don’t wear a yarmulke for me,” replied the Rebbetzin.
“Do you normally wear one?” she inquired.
“Well, then don’t wear it when you come to me. Wear it for you.”
-----Dr. Newmark would visit the Rebbetzin often, and she took a real interest in him and his future. Dr. Newmark responded to the Rebbetzins desire to be treated like everyone else by sharing with her the details of his life, including his dating ventures.
One time, she asked him, “So, do you want to get married?”
“Eventually,” he responded.
‘Are you going to marry a nice girl?”
“Are you going to marry a Jewish girl?”
The Rebbetzin simply smiled and responded, “Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.”
So, every now and then, Dr. Newmark would bring his girlfriends for the Rebbetzin to meet. They were not religious girls.
One, however, became religious after meeting the Rebbetzin. She was overwhelmed with meeting the Rebbetzin (in Dr. Newmarks words, “jaw dropped”) and, for years, was overly appreciative to Dr. Newmark for introducing her. She kept in touch with Dr. Newmark, even inviting him to her wedding. She now is a married woman living in Crown Heights.
Dr. Newmark came to the Rebbetzin often for blessings, which she enthusiastically passed on to the Rebbe. When Dr. Newmark’s father was diagnosed with cancer and told that he had only months to live, the Rebbetzin told Dr. Newmark that she would daven, tell the Rebbe, and everything will be fine. Dr. Newmark’s father lived for another 11 years.
Dr. Newmark later became a full time yarmulke wearer and married a woman who became religious through a Chabad house. Though they don’t call themselves Lubavitchers, they see clearly the blessings that stemmed from Dr. Newmark knowing “Mrs. Schneerson.”