The shluchim of Chabad are famous for being on the scene in crisis situations, and sometimes it is as simple as assisting one family stuck in traffic with a hungry infant.
“Unbeknownst to me, my husband reached out to Rabbi Mordechai Zev Hecht of Anshe Sholom Chabad,” wrote Adina Goldberg. “He asks me to drop a location pin and what landmarks I see.”
The Goldbergs were among the hundreds of motorists stuck in traffic on the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway last Friday where an 18-wheel truck carrying meat from Canada ignored the signs and crashed into an overpass at Markwood Place.
On this notoriously curvy highway, the stretch between Queens Boulevard and Markwood Place is the most dangerous, as it has two lanes in each direction that are barely narrow enough to allow for vehicles to pass each other, and the overpasses were built with low clearances to keep out commercial vehicles. When there is an accident, there are no shoulder spaces to allow for an escape or turnaround.
“Five minutes later, I see a furry ushanka hat hopping the barrier. A tzadik who goes by the name of Rabbi Mordy Hecht is coming toward us with a cup of hot water, a bag of snacks, and drinking water.”
Before they moved to West Hempstead, the family lived in Kew Gardens and attended Rabbi Hecht’s synagogue. Looking at his surroundings, Mike Goldberg knew that their car was stuck in traffic within a ten-minute walk of Anshe Sholom Chabad. “Their baby was crying, and it had been over an hour. They needed hot water and snacks. The rest is history, but it isn’t a big deal,” Rabbi Hecht said.
The temperature was freezing, and the car was in parking mode, stuck in place for more than an hour and a half. Along with their four-month-old son, Goldberg’s daughters, ages five and six, were restless, complaining of boredom and hunger. Rabbi Hecht supplied the Goldbergs and two other families on the highway with cookies and hot water.
The overpass sliced open the meat truck like a can, with its contents littering the road. The only escape for cars behind the truck was by driving backward for nearly a mile through the narrow tunnel under Queens Boulevard to the Grand Central Parkway. “It was crazy. Once I was able to back up, it was actually very quick. The police directed everyone,” Goldberg said.
In August of last year, a bus carrying Jewish campers also took the wrong exit but managed to stop short of the low overpass. In that incident, Queens Shmira partnered with the police in assisting the passengers.
The Goldbergs were on the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway by mistake, having taken a left exit from the Grand Central Parkway in the tangle of ramps that is the Kew Gardens Interchange. “We were going to New Jersey and did not notice that we had exited the Grand Central Parkway,” Goldberg said. “There had to be a reason for us to end up there.”
In recognition of Rabbi Hecht’s act of chesed, the Goldbergs encourage the public to make a donation to Anshe Sholom Chabad at www.chabadofthegardens.com.
By Sergey Kadinsky