Winter Storm Jonas, which ambushed the east coast this weekend, was one of the worst blizzards on record in the U.S. Yet, despite this, one Jewish family didn’t let the storm get in their way–especially when it came to a covenant with God. That’s pretty serious dedication.
Washington DC couple Rabbi Aaron Alexander and Rabbi Penina Alexander just gave birth to their third son, Amos Eden, on January 17th–which meant that they scheduled the brit milah (the circumcision ceremony) eight days after, as per Jewish tradition. Which, of course, landed on the day after the monstrous blizzard. This kind of sounds like your worst nightmare, doesn’t it?
Canceling the ceremony would mean that little Amos wouldn’t be participating in an important religious tradition–which the Alexanders, both rabbis, don’t take lightly. The couple knew many guests would be unable to attend, but they knew they needed on very important person to show up: the mohelet, the woman who would perform the circumcision. Luckily, their community and congregants saved the day: Sarah Brooks, a member of their synagogue who realized the timing of the storm would impact the ceremony, offered their mohelet, April Rubin, a place to stay at her home, which is just two blocks from the synagogue.
While many family members could not attend because of flight cancellations (including the paternal grandparents), the ceremony still took place on Sunday, with over 50 people in attendance. That number alone is extraordinary and speaks to the significance of their dedication to tradition. Penina Alexander explained the significance of keeping the tradition in The Washington Post:
“Obviously, eight days is very important, because otherwise we wouldn’t be here in the middle of a blizzard. It is said that Elijah is present at every brit so he can see with his own eyes that Jews are keeping the covenant.”
This story is fiercely inspiring, not just because of the obvious triumph, but because of the way the Alexanders’ community came together to help make this joyous occasion happen, even in the middle of a snowstorm.