Friday, October 1, 2021

A Mitzvah

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. 

So it's time to update this a significant amount. Since I originally wrote this 12 years ago I probablycollected about a hundred bucks off the "'Are you Jewish?' boys" they're pretty quick to give me twenty bucks if I put on the tafillen and repeat whatever words they told me to say or read off a card. the truly pathetic thing is that it's so obvious that I really don't care what I say it is just meaningless words to me and I AM just doing it for the money. They don't care as long as the son of a Jewish woman does the ritual. my obvious insincerity is irrelevant.

................................................................................................  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?"

Oy Vey

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.


  1. Glad you're donating the $ to charity. I've never seen someone approach someone else about tefillin before. Quite interesting.

  2. BTW, you had already done a mitzvah earlier in the day in my eyes by finding those gerbil babies a home and going shopping for pants for my kid!

  3. Denise has left a new comment on your post "A Mitzvah":

    Andrea, do you live in NY? You have never seen those mitzvah trucks where the Hasidic jews are asking men walking by if they are Jewish or not? If you answer yes and, the yes must be that you are jewish through your mom) then they try to get you to come in and pray.

    I still can't believe you did this, only you would ask for money, LOL!

    Praying for money! Love it!

  4. Love it - a few years ago when I was living in Park Slope, there was a young Hasidic man struggling with the card machine in the subway. I waited, patiently, for a while and then offered my help. He turned around and yelled "Get away from me you Aryan Hitler Child!"... All I had to say was, "Shalom, brother". I was absolutely baffled - I'm Jewish and the blond hair comes from my Russian descent...all I can say is thank gawd I'm Reform!

    I will have to remember your story the next time I'm out and they stop my boyfriend (and not me)!

  5. I always learn something from you...

  6. NYC is always an adventure. According to Pat Roberts, the only people in Haiti are the ones who made a deal with the devil to rid themselves of French rule. I wondered when I read his comment if the US did not make a deal with the devil because they were throwing off the yoke of the UK instead...

  7. MandyB- Yikes!
    Yeah, some people do get carried away. I like your idea though. I wonder how much you can make by hunting down all the Chabad tefillin stations in NY.

  8. This year, for the first time, I had some small children approach me at Prospect Park West and 3rd street. I didn't see the trainer.
    This year I told each and every one of them that yes I am Jewish but I am not getting close to strangers this year.


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