"For 50 years I looked for ways to pay back Mrs. Greenbaum. Finally Hashem has sent me my opportunity"
Simcha Greenbaum (all names have been changed) was one of those special neshamos that Hashem brings down to This World for the benefit of all of us.
A few weeks ago, Simcha Greenbaum, a challenged individual who never uttered a word of lashon hara, left This World. Simcha had lived for many years with his mother on the Lower East Side, but as his mother aged, it became more of a challenge for her to properly care for her beloved son.
There are a number of chesed organizations that provide group homes where these special neshamos are lovingly and warmly cared for. However, spaces are limited and it is difficult to accommodate all who need.
Simcha’s immediate family reached out to their relatives to see if anyone could assist in finding him a residential home, and were told of a new residential home about to open. A local shul was selling its adjoining building to the chesed organization. However, no one knew anyone at the organization.
Simcha’s cousin, Francine, worked in the office of a man named Beryl Fischer, which was located near the new residence. One day, Mr. Fischer noticed Francine looking forlorn. When asked, Francine explained that her cousin was in desperate need of being one of the select few to secure a place in the new facility, but they had no one to contact.
“What is your cousin’s name?”
Mr. Fischer’s eyes opened wide. “Is that Esther Greenbaum’s grandson from the East Side?”
“Yes! How do you know them?!”
“Call your cousins,” Mr. Fischer told Francine, “and tell them Simcha will have a place. I personally guarantee it! I am the president of the shul selling the building. I will ensure that it is legally stipulated that this sale is contingent on Simcha Greenbaum being secured a bed in the facility.”
Francine was dumbfounded. She couldn’t even lift the phone to make that call.
Mr. Fischer smiled at her shock. “In 1967, my father passed away,” he said. “My mother was left with three orphaned sons, and at 12, I was the oldest. When the time came for my bar mitzvah, my mother said I would have a aliyah on Monday morning in the local shtibel, and afterward she would buy some herring and kichel. That would be my entire bar mitzvah party.
“The next day, however, Mrs. Greenbaum arrived at our apartment and informed my mother that everything was arranged. That on Shabbos there would be a proper Kiddush in shul and all my classmates would be invited. I cannot tell you how special I felt being able to have a bar mitzvah like every other boy in the class.
“And that wasn’t all. A week later, Mrs. Greenbaum sent over a set of machzorim. When my mother protested, Mrs. Greenbaum simply replied, ‘Every bar mitzvah boy deserves a bar mitzvah present.’ This practice of Mrs. Greenabum “arranging” (read: paying) for my bar mitzvah and the giving of a gift continued for my two younger brothers as well.
“For 50 years I looked for ways to pay back Mrs. Greenbaum. Finally Hashem has sent me my opportunity and I’m not going to pass it up. Mrs. Greenbaum’s grandson will receive a place to live in dignity and with proper care. The building will be sold to the group home, contigent on one of the 16 beds being reserved for Simcha Greenbaum.”
Simcha spent his last years surrounded by the caring and devoted staff of the group home. His family, particularly his mother, had the peace of mind that comes from knowing her son was being cared for properly.
When Mrs. Greenbaum “arranged” Beryl Fischer’s bar mitzvah, she had no intention of doing anything except a chesed. However, the chesed we do today lives on forever.
It may take five years and it might take 50, but Hashem never forgets a chesed.
Just ask Beryl Fischer.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 805)
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