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Yes, you can make a difference!

Joe Pfefer

For those in the ‘know,’ I am normally at morning minyan at Kehilath Israel Synagogue on Tuesday, Wednesday and on Friday. The other days I am typically at Chabad’s morning minyan.

One morning at KI I saw a visitor saying Kaddish and asked him who he was saying Kaddish for. It was for his father; he was in the 11 months. We chatted for a few moments and then I asked him “when are you going back home.” His response was “my business is concluded here and I will be leaving shortly.”

My original intent was to invite him to lunch at Rachael’s Café in Village Shalom (where the kosher food is really pretty good and reasonably priced as well) or for a tasty kosher dinner at home. But after hearing he was leaving shortly, I dug down in my pocket and found my only dollar bill. I folded it and gave it to him.

He looked at me in curiosity. I then explained this was a “Shliach Mitzvah Dollar Bill.” Per my “sister” Sher Parkhurst, a teacher at the Jan Pfefer Gan Chabad preschool, it is a Lubavitch custom to give a dollar to anyone traveling to ensure their safe travels. Hashem will protect you during your travels and when you arrive at your destination, you give that dollar to charity (tzedakah).

I thought that was the end of the story.

However, one day recently I was having a particularly hard and frustrating work day. Things were not going well at all, despite all best efforts. As we were packing up for the day, my cell phone rang. It was an unknown number from the Maryland area code. It was the visitor I had met at KI’s morning minyan.

He said, “You probably don’t remember me, but I was davening at your wonderful shul a while back and saying Kaddish for my father. Everyone at the shul was so wonderful to me.”

I did not know what to say, but responded “OK.”

Aaron, that was his name, continued speaking.

“Well, I am about ready to get onto my train to go home for the day and I thought of you and KI Synagogue and I decided to call you before it slipped my mind. You had given me a dollar that day for my trip back home and then told me what its purpose was and about the Lubavitcher Rebbe, his works of kindness and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s book about the Rebbe, of righteous memory.” “This so impressed me that the following changes have occurred in my life. Even though I am done saying Kaddish, I am now each morning at minyan laying tefillin. Any time I hear of someone going out of town, I present them with a dollar bill to be given to charity when they arrive at their destination. AND, while I did not get Rabbi Telushkin’s book about the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I got the audio book and was amazed! Your act of kindness changed my life and you should be proud of the KI minyan! They were there for me … Have a good Shabbos!”

Tears were streaming down my face.

If you go to Chabad, there are multitude of stories such as this. Frankly, I was at times skeptical of these stories, thinking they were bubbe meises (old wives’ tales) or mamaloshen (mother tongue.) Now I know they do make a difference and you can, too!

Joe Pfefer is a member of Kehilath Israel Synagogue, BIAV and is an active participant in Chabad House and the The Shul of Leawood activities. He owns Jade Alarm.