If it were him, Heaven forbid, wouldn’t I want everyone out there searching?
Of course I was worried when I heard that a small boy had gone missing during a camp trip in Brooklyn. But when the call went out for people to join the search parties, I didn’t plan to go. I figured it wouldn’t make any difference, especially with all the professionals and other volunteers already involved.
Then I thought about my own grandson, who is about the same age. If it were him, Heaven forbid, wouldn’t I want everyone out there searching? Shouldn’t I at least try to find Yosef Shapiro?
I did go, and I walked and searched and called out “Yosef” for over an hour. I went into places I’d never been, even along the beach under the Belt Parkway at the Paerdergat Basin in Canarsie Park, Brooklyn. Lightning and thunder signaled a big storm on the way. The light display and crashing sounds became stronger as the sun set. The area is not well lit, and I had to rely on the two flashlights I’d brought.
Then the rain came down. It was heavy, and I was tired, so I began to head back. One must guard his own health first. But then I noticed a dirt path I hadn’t seen before. Although I was alone, I chose to explore it.
I had been walking for only a few minutes when I heard a child’s voice utter one syllable.
It was weak, and I wasn’t even sure I’d heard it. I turned around and saw another fellow. We looked at each other in shock, and he confirmed what I had heard. He, too, had heard a little boy’s voice pierce the muggy darkness.
He ran into the marsh as I called Deputy Inspector Richie Taylor of the NYPD, who was leading the search at the command post. A Hatzalah volunteer helped relay our geolocation. ATVs and a truck with a huge light arrived, and baruch Hashem Yosef was located soon after. Although the rain was falling harder than I’d ever experienced, we all danced for joy in it.
This was not a one-man show. Hundreds of people from every community and background dropped what they were doing to frantically search for a lost seven-year-old boy. The NYPD worked seamlessly with our wonderful private community organizations to organize and conduct the search and rescue operation. Untold thousands of people across the globe prayed as one. Our overwhelming response broadcast to the entire world the unity in Klal Yisrael, that we are one, despite any differences. Every single one of us matters. That is our answer to the hatred that continues to propagate and imperil our people.
I feel so grateful to have been part of that kiddush Hashem, and I hope that those inspired by my story will step up and make a difference too, perhaps on behalf of singles in our community who are lost and alone in their own way. Everyone knows someone who is waiting for their bashert. A stranger from Toronto made a difference for me three decades ago and transformed my life, simply by giving me the phone number of the woman who would become my wife. You can do it too: Think of suggestions for matches. Get involved. Visit 10kBatayYisroel.org for details.
Anyone can be a hero — as long as you care.
Victor Shine is a CIO, musician, and volunteer shadchan living in Brooklyn, NY. He writes a monthly column for The Jewish Echo magazine.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 876)
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