A regular Sunday in Bnos Rabbeinu. The basement freezer broke and girls were busy after school transferring the chickens to the three upstairs units…. All the little and big details of a school, even frozen chickens.
Sunday night – production practice, the usual.
Every girl in the school is in the basement, practicing with Mrs. Turen their principal (except one who was out of the dorm babysitting.
And then the smoke detector went off. The usual didn’t get shaken out of its complacency so fast, there was absolutely no smell or smoke in the basement and these things are always false alarms. Just to be certain, Mrs. Turen went up the steps to the first floor – and flew back down. “This is real, we are leaving now.”
Looking back, 2 years later, there are so many miracles Hashem did for us then, and continues to do for us. Now, immersed in permits, architects and contractor crises and miracles, in anticipation of opening new doors for the upcoming school year, we look back and thank Hashem, because that seemingly regular day was anything but.
As everyone who was so carefully and lovingly saved stood outside watching the school and dormitory burn, it was already apparent Hashem’s hand.
B”H all the students then in the building were in the basement with their principal, so not only did no one get hurt physically by the fire, but the girls also suffered no trauma. It was a calm exit, with Mrs. Turen there to guide them out.
All of the alarms in the building were wired, which alerted the students in the basement before the fire spread and it was easy and safe to exit. If the alarms were not wired, with all the girls’ noise, the likelihood of hearing the alarm was very slight, and by the time the basement alarm would have begun ringing, it would have been much more difficult and traumatic to leave the building.
Watching the fire rage, it was very obvious that it had started in the back kitchen of the first floor, though it spread to destroy all 4 floors of the building. About 5 feet from the source of the fire was Mrs. Turen’s office. As she watched the fire destroy the building, she thought of her teaching notes, 30 years of priceless handwritten papers, all gone. Her strong bitachon that everything Hashem does is from love led to her next thought. “I guess Hashem wants me to start all over. Kapara, how can I care about papers, Baruch Hashem everyone is fine.” But somehow, watching a building burn was less painful than thinking of all her painstaking notes, gone. But BH everyone was safe and that is the only thing truly relevant.
Hours later, when the five fire trucks, plus ambulances, police cars and news reporters had all gone, and the workers were boarding up the now desolate, smoke drenched building, the fire chief came to Mrs.Turen to give her areport. “Your office? The one 5 feet from the source of the fire? The fire that destroyed a 4 story building? Your office is … pristine. Absolutely untouched. I guess you could call it hand of G-d.” he concluded. Thank you Hashem for being so obvious with your chessed in the gevurah that even the fire chief could see Your hand at work.
The Rebbe picture in the hall also emerged untouched. Another ‘hand of G-d’ testimony to His presence everywhere.
And what about school Monday morning?
Gracious neighbors offered to host in their homes, and through non-coincidence, a family close to the school was in eretz yisroel and opened up their home as temporary school building. Hashem thinks of all the details.
He ensured all the girls were safe, saved Mrs. Turen’s teaching notes, gave the school a temporary respite to find a new school location for the interim, and even made the insurance adjuster decide that the entire building should be stripped to the studs. Seemingly some areas could have just been patched up without literally going down to the bare wood, but the gevura of a fire opens up the compassion of rebuilding something so much better than it ever was. And with the building now consisting of bare wooden beams, it can easily be rebuilt into anything, including the custom designed school building/dormitory in the works.
Now the chain of miracles must continue as we rebuild on a far more beautiful scale than before. Please be Hashem’s partners in the miracle of Bnos Rabbeinu by contributing to our building campaign. By supporting Bnos Rabbeinu, you have the merit of being part of a school that fights for the success of each of its students.
And whatever the fires are that rage in our lives, search for the compassion, before, during and after. The ‘hand of G-d’ is always there. Look for it.