When kindness breaks through bureaucracy

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin 

Before we went on our Shlichut (mission) to the United States, we rented a house and a car and registered our children for school. We did all of this from Israel, sight unseen. From amidst all the official American documents, a ray of light suddenly broke through: Amy Koretz.

Amy was the secretary of the YDT school and when, one morning, a strange mother from Israel turned to her to register her kids, Amy did not merely send an email with paperwork that required filling in passport numbers 20 times as well as a search for original birth certificates. She added a long, moving personal note in which she included everything that a mother arriving from far away would need.

She listed what is worn at school (shirts must have collars), what is eaten during breaks (we did not yet know how addicted over there they are to snacks), which textbooks she could help us order in advance, how the school is run (each level has its own principal), and how to prepare ourselves in every respect. Wow, I thought to myself, if there were only more Amy Koretzes. I have been reminded of this generous gesture so many times, regarding both how I relate to others and how I hope they would relate to me. Sometimes all it takes is a little personal touch, beyond the technical side of our interactions.

Amy and I remained in contact. Even before the pandemic, Amy told me about her desire to immigrate to Israel and this week Amy and Eliot Koretz made aliyah. They arrrived here precisely during the week in which we read in the weekly Torah portion about Rivka, who became Rivka Imeinu through the extreme kindness that she showed towards a stranger. Eliezer asks for a drink, but she also waters his camels and provides hospitality to him and his entourage. She did not only provide what was requested, but went above and beyond. She understood the complete needs of whomever she met and tried to help with all her heart. And she is called Rivka Imeinu, Rivka our mother, to remind us to follow in her footsteps.

So welcome, Amy and Eliot. How wonderful that one of the nice ladies from New York is now an Israeli.

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