Jerusalem - An incredible coincidence that occurred almost 80 years ago in New York saved Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog from danger and ultimately led to a moving meeting between the heros’ descendants decades later in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Herzog, the chief rabbi of Israel at the time, was in New York in May 1941 in an attempt to convince President Franklin D. Roosevelt to act against Nazi Germany’s persecution of Europe’s Jews.

Before boarding a ship back to Israel, Herzog attended a farewell dinner hosted by Shabbos Friedman, a local communal activist. A photo of Herzog and Friedman taken at the dinner immortalized the event.

The photo was taken on May 7, 1941. Herzog was scheduled to head back to Israel the night the photo was taken but was removed from the list of passengers, an event that saved him from a dangerous occurrence that happened days later. The ship he was slated to board, the SS Robin Moor, was sunk by a German submarine on May 21, before the US had entered World War II. All the passengers were saved after the Germans allowed them to board lifeboats before torpedoing the vessel.

Herzog took a later ship that sailed through South Africa and made it safely back to Israel.

Dr. Samuel “Shabbos” Friedman was an entrepreneur and doctor in New York at the time and had strong connections with many important rabbinical figures from Israel.

In one instance in 1924, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook visited Friedman, who, out of respect for what he assumed would be Rav Kook’s preference, had their photo taken with the men only. To their surprise, Rav Kook insisted that the women join the photo, and it was taken again.

Friedman was known as “Shabbos” because of his role in instituting a five day work week in the US, making it possible for Jews to observe the Shabbat. He also had many other entrepreneurial endeavors, such as his patent for a railway signal system, a new kind of snowplow, and his successful treatment for the big influenza epidemic of 1918. Read more at VINnews