@StanleyKrute shared this story on Twitter, about Rabbi Michael Beals of Delaware and Senator Joe Biden.
About 16 years ago, as a rabbi new to Delaware, Rabbi Beals officiated at the memorial service for an elderly woman, Mrs. Greenhouse. She didn’t have much in the way of worldly goods. She lived in a very small apartment in a high-rise building. Rabbi Beals led a prayer minyan that was conducted in the basement of her building because her apartment was too small to accommodate 10 people.
As the prayer commenced, the door opened and a man quietly entered.
From the tweet:
Toward the end of the service, a door at the back of the laundry room opened; who walks in but Sen. Joe Biden, head lowered, all by himself.
I nearly dropped my prayer book in shock.
Senator Biden stood quietly in the back of the room for the duration of the service.
At the close of the kaddish, I walked over to him and asked the same question that must have been on everyone else’s mind: “Sen. Biden — what are you doing here?”
He said to me: “Back in 1972, when I first ran for Senate, Mrs. Greenhouse gave $18 to my first campaign.
Because that’s what she could afford. And every six years, when I’d run for reelection, she’d give another $18. She did it her whole life. I’m here to show my respect and gratitude.”
Now, the number 18 is significant in the Jewish faith — its numbers spell out the Hebrew word chai, as in “to life, to life, l’chayim!” But it’s also a humble amount. Joe Biden knew that. And he respected that.
There were no news outlets at our service that day — no Jewish reporters or important dignitaries. Just a few elderly mourners in a basement laundry room.
Joe Biden didn’t come to that service for political gain. He came to that service because he has character.
He came to that service because he’s a mensch.
And if we need anything right now when it comes to the leadership of our country — we need a mensch.
I know this is such a simple, small story. But I tell it to as many people as will listen to me.