One of the advantages of being a local journalist is that you learn about the amazing people and organizations in our community, and people sometimes approach you with inspiring stories. This week, I was privileged to hear about a miracle that happened in our community this past Shabbos, Parshas Noach.
The person who called me asked that the exact location and names be withheld. Below is the story as told to this writer.
It was a quiet regular Friday night. We had one guest sleeping over in our apartment. My husband and I and our toddler live in a two-family house in Kew Gardens Hills with a garage underneath. There is a family below us with a baby.
Early Shabbos morning, my husband woke up before 5 a.m. and he had trouble falling back asleep. He noticed a strange smell and thought it might be from the blech, which had been crackling before we went to sleep. He searched all around in the kitchen, but he couldn’t find anything amiss. Then, when he went into the bathroom, he discovered that there was smoke coming from the wall that was not connected to the kitchen. When he saw smoke pouring in from the bathroom wall, he woke me up. It was strange that the smoke detectors had not sounded. I quickly dressed and grabbed our sleeping toddler, and we rushed out of the apartment. We’re on the top floor. We stopped and woke the downstairs neighbors.
We all rushed outside into the still-pitch-black morning. I had grabbed coats, as it was chilly outside. The fire department arrived quickly. The firemen searched for the source of the smoke. I wondered if maybe it was just nothing. It took a while, but eventually they found the source. They opened the garage, which is rented by a third party, and inside the garage there was an old car engulfed in flames. It was a raging blaze.
The firemen dispatched ladders and hoses and extinguished the fire. I was touched and awed by the chesed that quickly surfaced, as so many neighbors emerged into the dark early morning, offering us blankets and sippy cups and inviting us to come into their apartments. One family set up a pack-and-play in their bedroom for our toddler and made room for us to come inside and rest. Another family, who was leaving for the daytime s’udah, gave us their apartment so we could still host our Shabbos lunch guests with the food we had prepared.
We had to stay out of the apartment and air it out from the smoke smell. It truly was a miracle how Hashem kept us safe. My almost two-year-old son added new words to his vocabulary. When he sees the neighbors, he says firetruck, ladder, and hose.
Many emotions swept over me. It was very frightening. Gratitude was my overwhelming feeling. I was so thankful to Hashem for saving all of us and that the only damage was smoke damage. There was some property damage from the smoke smell but, baruch Hashem, our family and the family below us were all safe. It was just a short time after the Yamim Nora’im. It really emphasized to me the fragility of life and how we are not in control.
The person who called to share her miracle story pointed out how newspapers and secular media focus on bad news and outcomes, and she felt it was important to publicize this miracle. Chasdei Hashem, and mi k’amcha Yisrael! It’s amazing that in the next holiday we celebrate, which is Chanukah, we publicize Hashem’s miracles. So, with this story, we have the opportunity to publicize one of Hashem’s many kindnesses a month earlier. We should share only good news and blessings in this new year!