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Happenings around Hamaspik

Cops and Rabbis: “Bus”-ted Hamaspik Road Trip Brings out Servants’ Best

It was just before noon on the gray Sunday morning of October 8 when a police officer found himself on the upstate Interstate 84 heading east.


It was about 12:00 p.m. when Rabbi Zalman Sandhaus of the Fishkill, New York-based Pardess Center for Jewish Life was on the 84 heading west.


And it was only moments earlier when a charter bus-full of Connecticut-bound Hamaspik event-goers pulled off the highway and ground to a halt.  Mechanical trouble.


Leave it to Providence to unite three cops, one Chabad outreach rabbi, and a busload of Chasidic passengers from Kiryas Joel—none of whom had ever met each other.  But there they were, lives overlapping for what otherwise would have been over two hours of one mass kiddie meltdown.


It was a trooper with the New York State Police who first noticed the bus.


The officer pulled over, approached the driver and shortly took command of the situation.  The officer was shortly joined by a second police vehicle and officer, also with the State Police, followed by a third set from the Port Authority Police Dept.


The officers were “unbelievable” in their reassurance and friendliness as they professionally went about their duties, reports Hamaspik Special Events Coordinator Mrs. Brenda Katina.


But as the three public servants secured the safety of the bus and its passengers on the highway’s eastbound side, Rabbi Sandhaus passed by on the westbound side.  One look broadcast it all.


Having just completed a successful Sukkos breakfast event in a community member’s backyard, the rabbi knew the age-old social power of good food, and how to put it to good use.


By 12:30, he was back at a very different holiday scene, deploying that irresistible food power for the day’s second time.


Living only ten minutes from the scene, he had driven straight home, loaded up his Toyota Sienna with a minor trove of rugelach (mini-danishes), orange juice, seltzer and bottled water and headed right back.


Rabbi Sandhaus originally had other intentions for the foodstuffs.  Heaven clearly had other plans, as for the dozens of hungry, thirsty and stranded women and children, they were outright heaven-sent.


Within five minutes, the items were distributed and the rabbi was back behind the wheel, leaving only empty containers and hearts full of gratitude.


“He was so so nice!” says Mrs. Katina.


It was not much longer before a replacement bus showed up—and with the cops presiding, passengers, luggage and all transferred to their new shuttle and got once again underway.


For the officers, who regularly face a wide range of colorful and challenging experiences, it was just another day.


As for Rabbi Sandhaus, who already enjoys a professional relationship with his nearest State Police post, he’s just glad his life’s shlichus (mission) put him in the right place in the right time. 


Still, he has no plans on keeping a stash of emergency food supplies in his car at all times.  It would get ruined, he says.


“And,” he adds, “I might eat it.”