The beginning of fall is a busy season for these missionaries. I avoid them during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because for whatever reason they don't carry money on that holiday. They are allowed to ask me to listen to a horn but they're not allowed to pay me. But on Sukkot they want me to shake a stick and some sort of dried up melon while saying some prayers. Since I didn't have to put any leather straps on my head I only asked for $5 and they were quick to agree. The cool thing was that last week I was not alone during this encounter I was hanging out with some friends waiting to go for a workout.
................................................................................................ Janurary 2010
A couple of days ago I was changing trains in Times Square. There is always a lot going on down there, bands, art, various religious/charity looking for a handout or a sole. So it was not surprising that a man dress in traditional Hasidim clothing ask me "Are you Jewish?" It was about 1pm and I had plenty of time before I had to pick up the kids. So I decided to engage.
I tried to guide the conversation towards the subject of free will and humanity, but that was useless. It was like talking to a dining room table. I knew this man had one and only one agenda, that was to get me to use tefillin.
That subject came up quick. He asked me if I want to put them on. I said sure, if you give me $20. He instantly agreed. After a very short and polite discussion about the timing of payment. I performed the ritual, right there in the Times Square Subway Station.
We then had a short conversation about our personal religious histories. He gave me $20 and shook my hand.
"Congratulations, you did a mitzvah."
"No, the mitzvah will be when I donate this money to help end the suffering in Haiti."
"Are there Jews in Haiti?"
So if yo want to do a mitzvah you can help someone in need or support one of the organizations below.
The American Red Cross
I personal know the people involved at Heartline Ministries, it is not about religious rituals. It is about helping those who need the most help.