from the soon-to-be-published biography of Moishe Rosen
Over the hum of an old air conditioner and the muted yet audible din of street traffic and sirens, a loud voice burst from the other side of a closed office door. The words were muffled, but the tone was unmistakable. Raising a worried eyebrow, Susan Perlman winced and held her breath, straining to listen. The loud voice belonged to her beloved Great Uncle Gutel, who was engaged rather heatedly in conversation with Moishe Rosen.
Gutel, a regional director for the Jewish National fund, had spent much of his adult life raising money to reforest Israel. A devout pillar of the Jewish community, he was very upset that Susan had come to faith in Jesus, and worse yet, was associated with the nefarious Jews for Jesus that he’d read about in the Jewish Press. He blamed Moishe for Susan’s move from New York to California and for changing her life. When Uncle Gutel had learned that the notorious Moishe was coming to New York (for the first ever Jews for Jesus summer witnessing campaign), he had asked for an appointment with him.
Now the two were alone in the room that served as Moishe’s temporary office, and who knew what might happen next? Uncle Gutel was not only elderly, but very excitable. Susan feared he would get so agitated that he would have a heart attack.
Her worry only increased when a second loud voice interrupted the first, its cadence punctuated by the stutter that sometimes invaded Moishe’s speech when his mind moved faster than his mouth—or when he was trying to get a word in edgewise. But to Susan’s great relief, the shouting only lasted a minute, before both voices suddenly decreased in volume. Could they actually be having a calm, civilized conversation? The two were in there for a long time while Susan sat in the other room, alternately worrying and trying to concentrate on her work. At last the door opened, and Uncle Gutel came out.
Moishe’s bulky six-foot frame appeared in the doorway, looking thoughtful.
“So, Moishe, what happened?”The tightness of Susan’s attempt at a light tone betrayed the concern underlying her curiosity.
Moishe smiled reassuringly. “You know, Sue, I learned a lot from your uncle. After he calmed down, I asked him how he went about raising money for the Jewish National fund. He said he always tried to let people know personally how much he appreciated their support and encouragement. That’s something I’ve always felt was important, so I asked what he did to express his appreciation.
“I guess you know that since your uncle doesn’t drive, he’s always taking trains and buses to visit people and make presentations for the cause. Well he told me how he put those travel times to use. He’d buy postcards, and while he rode along, he’d write personal notes thanking donors he’d met in previous places. It became a regular part of his routine, sending those handwritten personal postcards. I think that’s a great idea, don’t you? Maybe we should be writing personal postcards to our donors.”
“Yeah, okay, but … you two … you parted as friends?” Susan was pleased that Moishe liked her uncle’s postcard idea, but she was a lot more interested in how her uncle had responded to Moishe.
“Well, I don’t know that your uncle would appreciate being referred to as my friend, but I think he would agree that we are now at least respectful and cordial acquaintances. Your uncle is a wise man who understands how to relate to people. I think I’d like us to try out that donor postcard thing.”
Susan smiled with relief. “I guess it went well. That’s a real answer to prayer. And … about the postcards, Moishe … I think you’re right. It just might work for Jews for Jesus, too—if you can get people to do it.”