Unaccustomed as I am to sharing personal information in this column, I can’t resist telling you about the surprise gift I received a few days ago. I can only explain it by the fact that this year we have not one, but two, Jewish months of Adar.
This week I received a totally unexpected monetary windfall, to the tune of several hundred dollars. I found the money, all in one-dollar bills, in my mailbox. The stuffed manila envelope included the following message from an anonymous benefactor:
Dear Chana Shapiro,
I was taking care of family matters in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and I decided to accompany an elderly relative to Shabbat services at the synagogue you attend. I admit that I dozed off during the rabbi’s sermon and remained in a semi-somnambulant state until Ayn Kelokaynu. The blend of hundreds of congregational voices was lovely, to be sure; however, your stentorian voice rose above the others. Suddenly the debilitating sinus condition with which I had suffered for years disappeared! It was a miracle! I felt my nasal cavities pop open, and voila, I was cured!
I have visited many doctors and tried many medications, but to no avail. Only your clarion voice was able to help me. It’s been several weeks since my fortuitous visit to your place of worship, and I’m still feeling fine!
I noticed that the outfit you were wearing, although certainly high style in the heady ‘70s, seemed just a tad outré. Please don’t get me wrong. I admire tie-dye just as much, or even more, than anyone I know, and chartreuse remains one of my favorite colors, especially in head covering. I also appreciate the matching siddur cover which you, no doubt, created yourself.
Nevertheless, I’d be honored to reward you for helping me by enabling you to purchase new, perhaps a bit more au courant, garments.
You needn’t be concerned about the source of my monetary gift. I am not depriving myself or my family at all. I simply emptied several of my tzedakah boxes.
I can guess what you’re thinking: ‘Am I more worthy than established charities?’ Mrs. Shapiro, I assure you that you certainly are! At kiddush following that seminal Shabbat service, I took the liberty of asking random congregants if they knew you. I described the miraculous sinus-clearing episode, and many of them recounted similar experiences of their own, all of them reactions to your dynamic singing. I’m not a pulmonologist; however, I can picture your astonishing lungs pumping curative power into the universe.
I must praise the warmth of your congregation: I’m most impressed with their welcoming nature. I’m in the habit of wearing a six-blade Swiss army knife as a lavalier. It was given to me by my best friend, and you wouldn’t believe how handy it is! People idling at the entrance took note and admired it. They encouraged me to enter along with my relative and knife. “Don’t take it off. You look honest,” they said, “Go on in!”
When I told my doctors about my sudden cure and the role you played, they said they’d heard of certain kinds of musical therapies, like the one used to explode kidney stones, but this was new to them. They acknowledged that your voice is unique and probably unmatched. I agree.
Mrs. Shapiro, please accept my paltry gift as a mere token of my undying appreciation. I never knew breathing could be so much fun. Unfortunately, I only had four tzedakah boxes handy; I wish there had been many more to empty on your behalf.
I’m sure that you’re curious, but if you try to identify me, it will be in vain. I live far away and was only in your synagogue one time. The relative I brought to services has left Atlanta and now resides with my family. I wish to remain anonymous.
As I said, folks, Adar’s been pretty great so far. Chag Purim Sameach to all!