Got up early this morning. Drove out towards a hotel where we were going to make sure the Jewish guests knew about Chabad and Purim and all the Purim programs. We spent the afternoon, traveling from one resort to another on both the Dutch side and the French side of St. Maaretn, finding Jews and inviting people to the Purim programs. We got home in time to prepare for shabbos. The shliach received lots of calls from a people on the island saying they heard about two rabbis who came by and they wanted to come for Purim.
Shabbos came in and guests started to arrive. Among them were a couple from Russia, a medical student from Buffalo, a few Israeli locals who work in diamonds, and a family from Pennsylvania, and so many more. We had a huge, beautiful shabbos meal (prepared by Mrs. Chanowitz. We sat around the table talking with the people for hours.
After the other guests left, the Israeli guests lingered on and farbrenged till the early hours of the morning. We discussed many topics they were interested in. We sang nigunnim that were easy for them to pick up; we we sang Israeli songs that they were familiar with, and we really bonded. They wanted to spend more time with us, so we made up that we’d come to them at their office on Monday morning and show them how to put on the new tefillin we had brought from New York, and teach them how to daven and the meaning of the prayers. They seemed really happy about this.
Shabbos morning we had a minyan of men for an inspiring davening. Afterwards we sat down to a beautiful full kiddush. At the kiddush the Holocaust survivor told us his story.
He grew up in Cracow next door to Schindler. Schindler bribed the guards to let his parents out. He was four years old at the start of the war and it was too dangerous for him to go to Lvov with his parents, who went there and hid with a non-Jewish family until the end of the war. So his housekeeper kept him, sticking to the story that she is her son. At some point, she started working in the house of one of the high ranking SS officers. One day when he was eight or so the Gestapo came to the camp and claimed there was a Jewish kid there, but the German guards told them that without papers they cannot do anything. Two weeks later they returned with paper and took him and his “mother” (the house keeper who stuck with him even though she was risking her life), and they were in prison for around 9 months by which time the war ended.
When he was done we sat and talked and talked with him and all the other guests. There was so much that they wanted to know, so many questions that they had.
At eight in the evening purim guests arrived for the reading of the purim megillah. We then began our major preparations for Purim’s programs.
After Shabbos, we packed shalach manos and cooked in the kitchen till two a.m. preparing for a party on the St Bart, Saba, and back to St Maarten later in the afternoon.