By David J. Seidemann, Esq.
Well, the Republicans had their chance and now the Democrats will have their opportunity to convince Americans that it is either going to get better; it already is better; or it is never going to get better unless change is made. Sensing that the average American is not the least bit interested in a glorified look-at-me party, the major networks cut coverage to approximately one hour a night. The roll call of the states, which was always the high point of the show for me as a kid, was conducted in the afternoon hours.
How I miss that roll call of the states where each state was afforded the opportunity to brag about how many gallons of milk Betsy the Cow could produce or how many eighth graders could spell their names. I learned more meaningless facts about this great nation of ours in those few hours than in all my years of schooling.
It also afforded the chance for a middle aged man usually with a bad hair piece to favor the audience with all the reasons why the candidate they believe will be the next president of the United States is deserving of at least most of their state’s delegates.
And my schedule and that of the networks also had me missing the highlight of the evening, yes, when young and old, black and white, drunk and sober, wrap themselves in the American flag and sing at the conclusion of each night’s activities, “G-d Bless America.” Ah yes, those were the days.
The above is mildly tongue in cheek as the function of the convention is a most important one. I myself was invited to attend the Republican Convention this year but due to previously scheduled court appearances could not attend.
And every four years maybe it is important to find out a bit about some of the other states in this glorious country and what they have to offer and how their histories shaped the present. I used the opportunity to explain the entire political process to my children, complete with an explanation of the Electoral College. At the very least, the conventions should remind us that it is time to focus on the future of our country and to become involved in shaping the future by campaigning for and then voting for the candidates that best implement what is in our collective best interests. If you have made up your mind, then take this extra time to engage a friend who might not yet see matters as clearly as you do. A little “kiruv” is always a good thing.
Returning to the subject of the roll call of the states, the other benefit of such an endeavor is that stereotypes are broken as you can appreciate that not everyone from California thinks the same way. Not everyone from West Virginia is a coal miner’s daughter. You get the picture.
To be sure, and on a much smaller scale, I can’t tell you how many times when I introduce myself and say I live in Lawrence, that a certain response is evoked. “Oh, Lawrence,” they say with a rising inflection. Lawrence, rich families, spoiled kids, hundreds of eateries, and expensive clothing shops; Lawrence, home of the narcissists and the selfish.
Now those out there that really know us know that just the opposite is true. Yes, there are those that have lost sight of priorities whose egos grow with every additional dollar they earn. But the overwhelming majority of my fellow Five-Towners are serious Jews, with a love of Israel, committed to Torah values, steeped in acts of kindness and charity, and committed to raising well-adjusted children.
So let me share with you one such story of unparalleled chesed which I am sure is but the tip of the iceberg for this man and his family and for the community at large. In other words, while this gentleman and his wife deserve so much credit, I am convinced that if they did not act, another one of our neighbors would have.
This man ascertained that a certain family was struggling financially and couldn’t put food on his table, let alone pay tuition. The yeshivas where his children attended would not allow the children to register. My opinion on such behavior by yeshivas is well documented from my prior articles on that subject.
At any rate, this gentleman single handedly raised the full tuition for both of the family’s two daughters. The yeshiva was requesting $7,500 for each girl, for a total of $15,000.
This ba’al chesed approached another community member and asked him if he could sponsor at least one of the young lady’s educational expenses. The second gentleman, without hesitation, handed the first gentleman a check for $7,500.
Tzadik number one took the $7,500 check from tzadik number two to the yeshiva. Now when the yeshiva saw that a total stranger was willing to pony up $7,500 for one of the daughters, they themselves were moved and lowered the total tuition bill to $10,000 from $15,000.
I would assume most people would have figured that the fellow was willing to part with $7,500. Why not just apply it to daughter number two’s tuition. But gentleman number one was honest through and through and asked one of our local rabbis what halacha requires him to do at this point. The local rabbi answered that he must return the $2,500 extra to the ba’al tzedakah.
So the man who solicited the funds calls the benefactor on the phone, sets up an appointment, and brings with him a refund check of $2,500. He offers the following explanation. “You agreed to sponsor one girl and gave me $7,500 thinking that was the full tuition price. I have since learned that the price for one girl is only $5,000, so here is the additional $2,500 you gave me.
The benefactor took the check for the $2,500 and disappeared for a few minutes to his home library. He asked the gentleman to wait in his living room. Two minutes later, the benefactor’s daughter entered the living room with a cold glass of soda and the father returned with a check payable to the yeshiva for $5,000 and was now the proud sponsor of the tuition for both young ladies.
That, my friends, is the Five Towns that I live in.
David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.