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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

(Courtesy of Congregation Shomrei Emunah) Congregation Shomrei Emunah of Englewood, under the leadership of Rabbi Menachem Genack, had the unique opportunity to host R’ Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin this past Shabbat. Sholom Mordechai was freed last year from prison after President Trump commuted his 27-year sentence after serving eight years.

Dr. Daniel Feuer introduced Sholom Mordechai by telling the story of how he had been in touch with Congressman Mark Meadows about the injustices served to Sholom Mordechai. Eventually, Congressman Meadows was able to convey this to President Trump a few days before he commuted the sentence.

Sholom Mordechai began to tell stories of how he was able to perform mitzvot and connect to Hashem even in the darkest years of his life. On Chanukah, a warden allowed Sholom Mordechai to light Chanukah candles, but only right near a bathroom. When Sholom Mordechai explained that he could not recite the bracha near a toilet, the warden—who otherwise was very stern and always keeping to the rules—told Sholom Mordechai to light the candles however he would do it at home. He allowed him to light in a private room for as long as he wished.

On Shabbat day there was a family luncheon in the shul, where 100 people came to hear more inspiration from Sholom Mordechai. He told of how he always had emunah in Hashem throughout his years in prison. He explained his connection with Gary Apfel, a prominent Los Angeles attorney who took on the case pro bono and proved that the witnesses testifying against him had completely lied under oath to the judge. Sholom Mordechai received a letter one day in jail that his appeal had been denied, essentially telling him he would receive his full 27-year sentence. The very next day he got another letter telling him the president of the United States has commuted his sentence. He was free to go home.

Shabbat concluded with a joyous melave malka of singing, stories and dancing. People came from the broader Bergen County community to hear his incredible story. Following some singing and storytelling, the crowd broke out into spontaneous dancing with Sholom Mordechai to celebrate his remarkable journey.