Posted by Ellen Krechmer

HandsI climbed the worn steps leading to a run-down, two-family home on a lovely street. The steps slightly gave way as I climbed, and I pushed open the heavy old door leading to a musty-smelling vestibule. I rang the bell with his name printed below it, and I was buzzed into a hallway. He called down from two flights up in a strongly-accented Polish-English, “Who is it?”

I had called this man prior to my visit. After introducing myself as an employee of Jewish Family & Children’s Service on the phone, he told me he didn’t have any money to give me and abruptly hung up the phone. I called his daughter to ask if I could visit, and she told him to expect me, so I yelled up my name. He either didn’t remember or didn’t hear me so the question and the answer were repeated again and then again.

Finally I switched to another response, shouting upstairs, “I have shalach manos (Purim gift basket)!” He made his way down the stairs, and asked me, with tears in his eyes, “You brought me shalach manos?”

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