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Giving Incognito

Friday, 11 February, 2011 - 3:05 pm

Dear Friends,

I'd like to share with you a positive Facebook story, for a change...  Yesterday, I became a "Facebook friend" of a man whom I met once years ago in New York, but reconnecting with him was a long overdue debt. 

It was over seven years ago, a few months after we came to Victoria that a family from a town up the Island came to spend Friday night with us. At the meal, the mother expressed her sadness for never celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of her youngest son. I immediately told her that it's not too late, and I'd love to help make it happen. By the end of the meal we already had a plan for how this was going to work, and when and where the Bar Mitzvah would take place.

This would be the very first Shabbat Services we had, in the living room of our home. We didn't have a Torah, an ark, prayer books or any other basic necessities of a Shul.

A few weeks later I attended the international Chabad conferance in New York. I was talking to my brother on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, when a young man, coming out of his car, asked in a heavy French accent if we would like to go to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's resting place in Queens. We were happy to join him for the ride. As we were driving, he asked me where was home for me.  When he heard that I just moved to Victoria with the mission of enriching Jewish life there, he wanted to know how he could help. I told him about the Bar Mitzvah coming up and the need for basic Shul items, to which he responded instantly "please buy everything you need, I'll pay for all your expenses".  I was amazed by his generosity, while he seemed very natural about it. He gave me his email address and he asked me to send the amount spent and my bank account information and we went on our way.

While in NY, I ordered all the books I needed, I got a book case to be used as an Ark in Victoria, and I immediately sent him a note thanking him for his kindness and then wrote the amount spent and our bank account information. There was no reply to this email, but shortly after the full amount was deposited into our account. I sent him an email again acknowledging the receipt of the donation, but again no reply. 

This Wednesday, I found his name on Facebook and we became “friends”... I was pleased to inform him of the developments of our Shul since he gave the funds to establish it, and he was thankful for the update.  Although he promised this time to keep in touch, he also seemed to be just as happy to contribute while not getting too much attention.  Our sages glorify this level of charity - Matan B'seter - giving incognito.

Comments on: Giving Incognito

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