Hit on the side of the Highway // A car accident on a cold winter night threw Reb Shmily Morgenstern into a dark field, bleeding and rapidly drawing closer to death…but a miracle was still possible

By: Shani Goodman

It was a frigid winter day last February when my phone slipped out of my grasp and was crushed by the wheels of a passing car. The next day I went to World of Communications, my favorite cellphone store, to try to replace it, and found to my surprise that it was closed. There was a large sign on the door that read, “Due to unfortunate circumstances, we are closed for the foreseeable future. Please daven for a refuah shleimah for Shmuel Yitzchok ben Chava Leah.”


What had happened? I was very concerned, but the details that were available were sketchy. 

Over the next few days the news trickled in. Reb Shmily Morgenstern, the friendly and knowledgeable salesperson who worked there, a man who had endless reserves of patience for customers, had been in a serious car accident and was fighting for his life.

Shmily, who moonlighted as a wedding singer, had been on his way home from a Motzaei Shabbos singing job when his car was totaled by a passing tractor trailer. The impact sent him flying 50 feet into the air. He was said to be in critical condition, heavily sedated and on a ventilator.

Klal Yisrael stormed the heavens, praying for a miracle for this young man even though the odds of his recovery were slim. Sadly, he was not the only singer in a coma; two of the Tantzers, members of a local group that entertains seriously ill patients, had been in an accident on the Palisades several years earlier and were still comatose. The prognosis was grim. 

The Monsey branch of WOC remained closed for a while, eventually opening for limited hours each day with another yungerman behind the counter. Then, several weeks after Pesach, I stopped by the store again to order a travel phone, and I was stunned to see Shmily at the register. There was a big scar on his face and a mark on his neck where his trach had been, but he was back, as if nothing had occurred.

“I’m so happy to see that you’re okay,” I said to him. “Everyone was so worried!”

When I mentioned that I write for Ami Magazine, Shmily told me that his wife, Chaya, had just written an article about his miraculous recovery and sent it in to Ami. In subsequent conversations with Shmily, Chaya and Rivky Sprei of Chaim Medical, who orchestrated his medical care and his complicated transfer from one hospital to another, we pieced together the story.


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