The amazing story of how Jerusalem Shlucha Chana Canterman befriended Aviva Shalit and the 20 year old dollar from the Rebbe that resulted in recent blessings.
By COLlive reporter
Aviva Shalit, mother of the now released Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, placed a phone call Monday to Chana Canterman, a Chabad Shlucha in Jerusalem, to update on her son's health.
"He's fine! He's fine!" Mrs. Shalit joyfully said.
The connection between the two who live in the same country but spend time in different spheres began when the Shalit family began campaigning for their son outside the prime minister's residence.
Sgt. Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas terrorists on 25 June 2006 in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels near the border with Gaza.
Chana and her husband Rabbi Eli Canterman, the Shluchim in the Talbiyeh neighborhood in Israel's capital, were one of the volunteers who provided meals for the Shalits in their protest tent.
The Cantermans had the Sunday shift and have since become close friends with the Shalit family, visiting them often and praying together for Gilad's release from Hamas captivity.
Chana would spend hours shopping and cooking beautiful meals for the family, a friend of the Cantermans said.
"Slowly they had to bring larger amounts of food each week because everyone would visit on Sunday because they loved her cooking," the friend said.
Naturally, they became close friends with Aviva and her husband Noam Shalit, providing not only food but emotional and psychological support during this time.
"When I flew in to New York for the annual Kinus Hashluchos convention on 24 Shvat, I asked Aviva what I could bring her back from the U.S.," recalled Mrs. Canterman in an interview with COLlive.com.
"She told me, 'All I want is Gilad. I don't need presents.' All she thought about was her son."
The Cantermans also made sure to come by for holidays, in addition to the Sunday visit. For Purim, they organized a festive meal for family and guests, and brought them Matzah on Pesach. During Lag BaOmer day, children came to the tent to say the 12 pesukim (holy passages).
On April 17th, the day before last Pesach, Chana Canterman brought a special gift to Aviva Shalit along with her meal: a dollar bill that she had received from the Lubavitcher Rebbe that was to be given to a worthy charity.
"Take this dollar," said Chana, "and may it be a Segulah (merit) that Gilad be released this year."
Aviva accepted the dollar gratefully and carried it with her wherever she went.
"It was a very depressing period for the family," Canterman recalls. "We wanted to give them an opening of hope and strength to continue waiting for the healthy return of their son."
On the same day the Shalits received the dollar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Shalits he replaced the official mediator from Chagai Hadas to David Medan.
Miraculously, Medan began to receive messages from the Hamas with signs of Gilad Shalit being alive and in stable condition.
On Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Canterman came by to blow shofar for them. A week later, they heard that Gilad was going to be released on Tishrei 20 - on Chol Hamoed Sukkos.
The next day, Mrs. Canterman texted Aviva Shalit asking her if she can check the date written on the dollar from the Rebbe (Chabad chassidim often write on the bill when it was received).
Mrs. Shalit excitedly replied that the date on the dollar that Canterman received over 20 years before from the Rebbe, was Tuesday, 20 Tishrei, the date that Gilad Shalit was released by the terrorists.
And the year that dollar was given? 5751 - the Hebrew year chassidim spelled out as "the year we will see miracles and wonders."