“I must tell you that living here I don’t know if my daughter will ever meet another Rabbi again.
I ask you to give my daughter a message so that she will always be proud of her Jewish identity.”
Berkowitz’s mind was racing. He knew he only had these few minutes, but what should he say? Thinking back to the Rebbe’s talks, he realized that one of the Rebbe’s great strengths was his ability to personalize a mitzvah, to empower the individual. He started to speak to the girl about the holiness of the Sabbath, the day which Jews dedicate to God: “And who ushers in Shabbat? It is mothers and daughters who light the Shabbat candles. They bring peace and light into the world”
He then asked her: “Where is the first place in the world where the sun sets?” The girl knew geography, and she said, ‘Probably New Zealand or Australia.’”
And Reb Avraham told her: “That’s right. Jewish mothers in New Zealand and Australia are the first to usher in Shabbat. And then Shabbat is ushered in with lit candles in Asia, in Israel, in Europe, and then New York, Chicago, Seattle, Anchorage. And even then, there is one part of the world where the sun has not yet set. Here in the Yupik territory of Alaska. When mothers and daughters around the globe have welcomed the Shabbat, God and the Jewish people are still waiting for you, the last Jewish girl in the world, to light the Shabbat candles.”