“Yes, I Know Him”: A Hashavas Aveidah Story

I just finished your weekly edition’s story about how a lost passport was finally returned by someone who felt the need to find the person who lost his passport even though she had no idea who he was.

I feel it is important that I personally extend my appreciation to Mrs. Niederman and all the others who went above and beyond in an effort to be mekayem the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah.

I recently returned from Canada and arrived at LaGuardia Airport, where I took a taxi to go home.

As I got home and unpacked, I realized that I didn’t have my passport! In short, I made every effort to touch base with LaGuardia’s lost and found, the Canadian airline I came home with, the taxi company, etc., but to no avail. I retraced my steps in a frantic effort to find it, but it was nowhere to be found.

I went to the post office to apply for a new passport and was told to bring a birth certificate as proof of identity.

Guess what? I turned my house upside-down and couldn’t find my birth certificate. I hadn’t needed it for years!

I finally found some immigration papers that the post office employees said I could use as identification. When I showed them the papers, my surname was spelled slightly differently than how I’ve been spelling it for the last 70 years. I had to hire an attorney who would need to file papers to have my surname officially changed and spelled the way it should have been spelled.

The process took four months and big-time legal fees, plus a monumental headache!!

I wish Mrs. Niederman had found my passport! Mine was never returned to me.

The moral of the story? Never underestimate the significance of what one might think is “no big deal” in the performance of a mitzvah.

I want to somehow share my experience with others so that we all learn an important lesson about helping a fellow Yid in circumstances that may not seem to be that important, when, in fact, it could end up being more important than anyone can imagine!

Robert Eissenberg