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Reroute to the Rockies

Brocha Miller

When most couples their age would be thinking of retirement, Rabbi Yisroel and Rebbetzin Debby Miller were figuring out what their next station would be. So instead of collecting brochures for golden-ager communities inFlorida, they went to their local sporting goods store and stocked up on ski masks and hiking socks. They were off toCalgary, where they hoped to establish a warm spot for Torah in the freezing Canadian Rockies.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

man from the rockiesIt’s Friday morning. While the rabbi waits for his next appointment — a young newlywed couple who have a private learning session about foundations of Yiddishkeit — he sits down to review his drashah. This week’s talk is entitled “The Pharaoh Fantasy.” But he doesn’t get too far before the phone rings. It’s a family of Noachide Christians living 100 miles away who have come to embrace Torah and want to keep Shabbos properly; they were wondering if they can keep the lights on the whole time, or do they have to sit in the dark?

Meanwhile, his rebbetzin is in the kitchen, preparing for the Shabbos seudos. She’s counting the chickens in her freezer, calculating if she can make them last through next week, when the meat order is due to arrive. Tomorrow, there will be more guests, so she takes out the extra folding table and spreads a white cloth over it.

It’s a perfectly ordinary scene — one that can be found in tens of thousands of Jewish homes on any given Erev Shabbos. But this isn’t BoroPark or Lakewood. It’s Calgary, Alberta— a city nestled at the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, 1,800 miles away fromAmerica’s East Coast centers of Torah.

Why would an accomplished pulpit rabbi and talmid chacham and his wife give up their well-deserved, comfortable retirement and instead throw their future into enhancing a kehillah two time zones away from their children, grandchildren, and familiar community? Rabbi Yisroel and Rebbetzin Debby Miller have answered that question with their very presence inCalgary.



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