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Katrina The Shadchan

The Jewish Week

A natural disaster creates the perfect climate for a young chasidic couple to meet.

In the chasidic world, matchmakers bring young men and women together.

In the case of Rabbi Mendy and Rachel Traxler, the shadchan was Katrina.

Mendy, 22, part of the Chabad-Lubavitch rescue-and-relief effort in Baton Rouge following the hurricane a year ago, traveled to Houston to join his parents, Chabad emissaries there, for the High Holy Days season. Rachel Kaufmann, also 22, was in Houston with her family, also Chabad shluchim, who left their home in New Orleans for temporary accommodations in Houston.

Both were single. Their first arranged date was in October, erev Sukkot. “Only two or three hours,” Rabbi Traxler says. More dates, conversations in public places, followed. “Things started clicking.” By November they were engaged. In February they were married in New Orleans — they wanted to bring the city a happy occasion.

Their wedding received — pardon the expression — a flood of publicity because of its unique circumstances,

“Everything happens for a special reason,” says Rabbi Traxler. He and his wife work at Chabad summer camps in the Catskills.

In their case, “everything” included a providential meeting at a health food store of Rachel’s mother and a Chabad rebbetzin, which set the shidduch in motion, and the Class 5 hurricane that brought Rachel to Houston when her beshert was there.

“If Katrina had not happened,” Rabbi Traxler says, “we would have met … because the Eibishter [a Yiddish name for God] wanted us to meet.”

Rachel’s parents are back in New Orleans, where their house suffered minimal damage from Katrina’s flooding. She and Rabbi Traxler now live in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, where she is a teacher and he is studying in a kollel program for married students.

They think about the hurricane “every now and then,” Rabbi Traxler says. Come the anniversary this week, he says, the couple will probably call their parents and share some memories.

When they have children, will they give one a Katrina-related name?

“We get asked that all the time.” Rabbi Traxler says.

The answer is no. Katrina, he says, “is part of our lives. It doesn’t have to be a part of our kids’ life.”


  • 1. just me wrote:

    does anybody else taste cheeze in their mouth? Cue the romantic (gone with the wind) music

  • 2. Give it up wrote:

    Aw, leave the poor couple alone. They don’t want this publicity, but try saying no to a reporter…

  • 3. a kid that was in parksville wrote:

    i like the awnser about the kids
    mendy i was a camper in parksville when u were the color war breakout ow remmber those days
    anyway i rhink this a cute store
    mazel tov on your marrige(this is the first time i
    heard you were married)
    and good luck in your future

  • 6. someone wrote:

    To: Just me, Whoever and Give it up,
    Your comments are very offensive and don’t belong on a public blog. Hashem has in mind how people will find their basherts. Have you 3 ever been through a hurricane or anything similar? The girl in the article’s(whom I happen to be quite close with) family as well as mine and many people close to me went through Katrina and had to evacuate New Orleans. My own wedding was supposed to be in New Orleans, but due to the hurricane was moved to New York. Maybe this hurricane had to happen so these two people could get married.
    I think it wise to think twice before posting offensive and hurtfull comments online.

  • 8. camper in parksville wrote:

    i remember that brakeout we were saying tihilim for you and then we find out oh!!
    COLOR WAR!!!
    i am very happy for you and i wish you lots of mazal and your marrige should be very happy

  • 9. camper in parksville wrote:

    i remember when you actually broke out bog war with the missing laundry you and yos hut. you should have hatzlacha and parnosa

  • 10. To Nasty People wrote:

    With all the bad stuff that happened because of Katrina, it’s kind of nice to let people know about something GOOD that happened bacause of it!!

  • 11. A Fitting Tribute wrote:

    Dear "just me",

    Your attitude is total amelek. The Rebbe spoke many sichos about just your kind of coldness. I’m sure you go about your life like some "big chassid," but those who know you better know the real you.

    The article about Mendy and Rachel was first printed and written by an author for The Jewish Week, so no one on this website wrote it. I think it was shared here as a wonderful tribute to Hashem’s unrevealed plans for all of us– in honor of the one year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

    The Divine Providence of this couple’s shidduch is a true expression of revealed good during a very horriblem confusing time. A time that affected many Lubavitchers and Jewish people in New Orleans– not to mention the cause of over 1,500 people’s deaths, some of whom were Jewish.

    On this anniversary of one of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history…..let’s share only acts of goodness and kindness and leave the "amalek of ‘just me’" by the wayside.

    Moshiach NOW!
    From someone who lived through it.

  • 12. Give it up wrote:

    I happen to know the couple, and although it is a wonderful story, they don’t appreciate all of these articles about it. Publicity can be annoying.

  • 13. meeeee wrote:



  • 14. thoughts wrote:

    i guess this is what it means "it takes the splitting of the sea to make a shidduch"

  • 15. how nice wrote:

    Mazel Tov…I find the parksville campers taking their trips down memory lane to be quite amusing. But, this is really nice, they were able to find happiness even in the most difficult of times.

  • 16. Menashe wrote:

    You guys are so cool, I’m so happy for you Rachel and Mendy, I can’t believe you made it into this newspaper that’s huge… I remember when you were in the n’shei I thought it was also kinda neat….

    I wish I had some interesting story to make me famous, but I guess I’ll have to wait for a hurricane to hit us here in Byelaya Tserkov….


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