By Dov Levy
Woodbourne, NY—It was already past midnight and the Rebbe’s son begged him to go home and get some rest. Rabbi Mordechai Jungreis, beloved Rebbe of Niklesburg, arrived at the Woodbourne Shul last Monday morning, June 26th, at 5 AM to open up so the shul would be ready for the first minyan to begin at 6. Since then he spent the entire day catering to the spiritual and physical needs of the hundreds of visitors who passed through the shul, not even taking a rest break. Yet the indefatigable Rebbe balked at the idea of leaving. “How can I go when people are still coming to daven?” he told his son.
And keep coming they did. Although the shul building was already locked, minyanim continued to form outside as mothers dropped off their sons to catch a late maariv before heading or bed.
The Rebbe may have been motivated by his love of chesed and sense of duty to his fellow Yidden, but his decision to remain longer was more than just virtuous—it was downright prophetic.
Not long after, a car that had just left the shul was stopped by police a short distance down Route 52 from the shul. The stop seemed interminably long. Suddenly more and more police cars showed up and it became clear that something serious was afoot. Rabbi Jungreis went to get a closer look, taking care to maintain a respectful distance as the officers went about their work.
At one point the driver, a young man who had just finished maariv at the shul, noticed the Rebbe standing at the side of the road and called out, “Rebbe, I need a bracha!” He was in deep trouble and was visibly frightened. The Rebbe reassured him that Hashem will help.
His words came true, and it was thanks to none other than Rabbi Jungreis himself.
While conferring between themselves, two of the local police officers took note of Rabbi Jungreis standing at the side. One asked the other, “Who is that man?” and his colleague responded, “Don’t you know? He’s the rabbi! Remember that video that went viral last year of the rabbi standing in the street directing traffic so we could get by during an emergency call? That’s the man!”
The two officers approached Rabbi Jungreis, who greeted them with his trademark hug and warmth. The officers told him, “That man is driving with a revoked license that has three suspensions. By law we are required to arrest him. But out of respect for you, rabbi, we are going to let him off with a warning.”
The upshot: a Kidush Hashem by Rabbi Jungreis last summer, along with his insistence on remaining at the shul so long as minyanim were ongoing, saved a Jewish man from being arrested and imprisoned for his violation. Of course, all drivers are urged to obey all traffic laws and drive safely at all times.