On the night of Thursday, July 25, just hours after Shmuel Rabinowitz, a 16-year-old camper was found in the woods of Vermont, we heard the shocking news: A yungerman on the way to New York from Montreal had been crushed under a car and needed our tefillos. Nachman ben Hinda Sarah Zissel, the father of three children, had stopped on the New York State Thruway to change a flat tire, and was trapped for 20 bone-crushing minutes with the full weight of the vehicle on his chest. As related in last week’s “Human Experience” about the missing camper, by hashgachah pratis, the car of Chaverim volunteers on their way home from Vermont happened to pass by the scene and stopped to administer CPR, likely saving the young man’s life.
Initial reports about the severity of Nachman’s injuries were grim, and klal Yisrael stormed the heavens with their tefillos. While I didn’t know it at the time, it turned out that Nachman Rosenberg is the son of my former classmate and dear friend, Mrs. Sura Zissy Rosenberg. Contrary to the preliminary predictions of paralysis or brain damage, Nachman survived with multiple broken ribs and a broken clavicle, but with no internal bleeding or serious injuries.
In this exclusive interview with Ami, Sura Zissy shares the tremendous miracles the Rosenberg family experienced throughout their frightening ordeal.
Sura Zissy Rosenberg:
Nachman is my eldest son. He lives in Montreal with his wonderful wife, my daughter-in-law, and their three adorable children. Since it isn’t easy to travel such a long distance with the little ones, I don’t see them often enough. For the past few weeks, I’d been asking them to come for Shabbos so we could spend quality time together. Then, two weeks ago they called to tell me the great news: They would be coming for an extended weekend, from Friday through Monday. We were thrilled, and we spent most of the week cooking and baking, preparing for their visit.
Because Nachman couldn’t take so much time off from work, they left Montreal on Thursday night at around 9:00 p.m. Nachman was driving his Toyota Sienna, which was in excellent condition. The roads were clear and there was no traffic; at 1:45 a.m. they called to tell me that they were only 15 minutes from Monsey. (This was part of the tremendous chesed, as they were close to civilization and had cell-phone service when my son was trapped.)
Since I was very exhausted, I went to lie down for a few moments until their arrival.
Less than five minutes passed before I got another phone call, this time from my daughter-in-law. “We just got a flat tire and pulled over to the side of the road. Nachman is going to try to change it.”
“Are you sure he can manage by himself? Maybe he should call Chaverim,” I suggested. But my daughter-in-law assured me that he knew what he was doing—Nachman is very handy—and that they didn’t want to bother anyone so late at night. It would probably take only a couple of minutes; they hoped to be in Monsey by 2:00 a.m.
“Okay, keep me posted,” I said, letting my eyes close. Two minutes later the phone rang again. This time my daughter-in-law was frantic. “Nachman is under the car!” she screamed.
“Of course he’s under the car,” I said. “Didn’t you tell me that he’s changing the tire?”
“The car fell on his stomach!” she shouted. ‘I called 911, but they’re not coming. What should I do?”
I quickly called Hatzalah, woke my husband up, got dressed, and we hurried to the car. Speeding through the streets, we headed to the location where Nachman was trapped. My daughter-in-law kept calling me, sounding even more anxious with every passing moment. They were still waiting for the emergency responders, but three men in a truck had stopped and were trying to lift the car off Nachman.