Intrepid mohel reaches stranded family

By Robyn Rosen, January 14, 2010
Lorraine Hershon with baby Elias

Lorraine Hershon with baby Elias

A mohel walked three miles through blizzards and nine inches of snow to reach a family stranded in their Northumberland farmhouse to perform the circumcision on their newborn son.

Lorraine and Daniel Hershon and their four children have been unable to leave their home in the remote hamlet of Unthank, near Haltwhistle, since December 28. The oil reserves for their heating system ran out after a few days and an oil tanker had to turn back three times because of the treacherous roads.

“It was like our very own Chanucah story — we were eking out the oil to survive,” Mr Hershon said. Help was only forthcoming after his wheelchair-bound wife rang Radio 2, where presenter Jeremy Vine made an on-air appeal for help. A Carlisle man delivered oil in his 4x4.

The worsening weather conditions had forced the Newcastle Reform congregants to postpone the bris of their son Elias on four occasions.

“We were getting desperate,” Mrs Hershon said. But mohel Selwyn Goldthorpe and his wife Gillian came to the couple’s rescue. Travelling from Merseyside, they drove as close as they could to the farmhouse. Donning survival gear, they trekked three miles along a snow-covered single track to complete the journey — and they made a return trek after the ceremony to reach their vehicle before nightfall.

“The baby is getting bigger and they’ve had to wait so we just wanted to get on with it before he was ready for his barmitzvah,” Dr Goldthorpe joked. “We stocked up the car with sleeping bags, spades and walking gear. We got as close as we could and then had to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way. They live in the middle of nowhere so the snow was really thick and pristine.

“We were very pleased to help out because they would have been stuck otherwise. It was definitely worth it because Elias had his bris and we had a nice day out.”

Last updated: 4:16pm, January 14 2010