Last Friday night I gathered some friends together here in Iowa City and had an impromptu Bar-B-Q in the lawn. Angie bought some fancy ‘vegi-brats’, while I cooked hamburgers and hot-dogs. We spent the evening marveling about the flooding in Cedar Rapids and the potential disaster encroaching on Iowa City.
Just after the sun went down, the Jewish fellow that lives across the street walked over and made an unusual request. He asked if one of us would come over and turn his stove off. In return, he would bring over a 12-pack of Amber Boch to show us his gratitude.
My friends, Seth and Jesse, went across the street and returned shortly with the beer. When we asked why they had to help him turn off his stove, Seth replied that their Sabbath begins at sundown and that by Jewish law, they cannot start or extinguish a flame. Unfortunately, the sun had gone down before the Jewish family had finished cooking, so they were stuck with a heated stove burner.
For the life of us, we couldn’t remember the name of the Jewish man across the street, although we had all spoken with him on occasion. He enjoys walking around the block and we always see him fighting an old lawnmower each time he decides to cut his lawn too short.
I finally ran across a picture of him oneline and his efforts during the 2008 flood and now his secret is out. His name is Rabbi Avrohom Blesofsky and he is the co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Iowa City. Apparently, he’s been putting in some considerable effort into the sandbagging activities around Iowa City. He is a character and quite a nice fellow.