Thursday, September 4, 2008


The mailroom of an apartment building housing five hundred families, many of which are elderly, is much more than a place where you get your mail. Residents emerge from behind tightly locked doors into a common space where renewed encounters create a community of family members. At the very least, formal greetings are exchanged and individuals are recognized by their neighbors, bestowing upon even the most socially isolated a feeling of togetherness and the reassurance of not being totally alone.
One elderly woman, walking ever so slowly and deliberately to collect her mail, bent over and mumbling to herself, looked up and recognized a familiar face.
She has been living in this apartment building since its inception in the 1970’s. Without family, the residents are her spouses and siblings, children and grandchildren, the hub of her emotional life.
Holding several pieces of mail in her hand she was heard saying, in a squeaky, enfeebled voice:” Whenever I get a request from a charity, I always send them at least eighteen dollars. Sometimes I’ll send them thirty six-you know why-its two times eighteen which is life in Jewish. I can’t afford to send more, but how can I refuse to send anything? It’s the right thing to do.” The man she was talking to replied: “God bless you-you are a real mensch.”

How inspiring can the act of a weakened old woman be! I realized how grateful we should be knowing that there are countless such “menschen”-kind, simple and generous people, who innately understand the ordinary meaning of kindness. These simple acts of goodness are the lifeline of their lives and those of so many others. God bless them all, indeed.

No comments: