A Match Made in Heaven
Hashgacha Pratit, or synchronicity, is the theme in the Derfler family story. Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Derfler, born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, wanted to study law. Before the term started, he went to Israel to learn Hebrew and stopped for a short program at Yeshiva Ohr Sameyach. He never went to law school in the states. He learned Talmudic law in Israel instead.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Tehila Derfler, born Hiilawe Mitchell in Hawaii and raised in Eugene, Oregon, was trying to find her place in the Jewish world. While finishing her degree in fine art at the University of Oregon Tehila was inspired by Rabbi Asi and Aviva Spiegel to turn to Orthodox Judaism. Her Uncle Daniel and Aunt Loren had it all planned out how to lure her to seminary in Israel.
Tehila willingly put her career on hold and took the bait.
Fast forward a year. Tehila was dating unsuccessfully. Uncle Daniel and Aunt Loren planned a trip to Israel. As the time grew shorter they lost hope of attending Tehila’s wedding during that visit. One Friday morning: Rabbi Derfler ran into his chavruta on the street who invited him for Shabbat dinner. Tehila attended her friend’s wedding and was invited to attend sheva brochot near the Nachlaot area. Shmuel Cohen (also of Eugene) found her a meal at the aforementioned chavruta’s house. The host and hostess had the shidduch idea when another guest asked if they were related. Needless to say, the rest is history.
In Jerusalem a mere 6-1/2 weeks later with Uncle Daniel and Aunt Loren attending. Tehila’s mother, Dr. Miriam Mazure-Mitchell and sister Yris Mitchell also came. Leah Sand, formerly of Eugene and an early member of the Halachic Minyan now known as Ahavas Torah, decorated the Kallah’s bridal chair. Was it a sign that they would go serve the community in Eugene?
“We knew it was meant to be,” said Rabbi Derfler, “Just like I am my wife’s bashert (and she is such a Eugenian) so I am bashert for Ahavas Torah.”
Was it coincidence that when Rabbi Derfler finished his Rabbinical training at Ohr LaGolah and was looking for a job, that Eugene, the place his wife was from, had a opening for a community rabbi?