Adventures of a Chief Rabbi: Mid-air Rendezvous

Thursday May 2, 2013

So I’m sitting in my seat, minding my own business. It’s the last leg of a three-flight journey. Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo. I was blessed with a whole row in the first leg and an empty seat next to me in the two other flights (the flights were otherwise all packed).

The woman comes up to me purposefully and without introduction asks: “Are you Rabbi Spitz? The Chief Rabbi of Uruguay?”

“Yes!” I answer, not surprised by the content of the question, though unused to being so recognized.

She had seen the ad in the local Jewish weekly announcing my arrival. We then conducted the requisite Jewish geography game and scored a 10 as within a minute discovered that she is the cousin of one of my Madrichim (counselors) from the time I grew up in Rio. That practically makes us family. I met her husband and son and proceeded to get their take on the Jewish history and issues of the Uruguay community as well as how I’m going to make it all better.

I was greeted warmly at the airport by the President and Vice-President of the community who dropped me off at the Kosher hotel, the Armon Suites. I recognized from my previous visit all of the staff, including the mashgiach (Kosher supervisor) of the restaurant, who formally is part of my staff. It was interesting to see my signature on the hashgacha (Kosher certificate) on the wall.

Tomorrow is my first day at the office and then the fun begins!

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