Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Moshe Aryeh Friedman Collects for Seminary Tuition (Part 3)


"Mustafa, you can maybe take me to the rich people, who give money, and not to the airport? Feldstein he is stupid, he send me to airport because he think I can collect there."

Mustafa Asad Fareed and Moshe Aryeh Friedman resembled each other not only in name, but also in moral fiber. Fareed was a Pakistani cabbie who made his living taking meshuluchim to homes in Antwerp, even though he was a fervent supporter of Islamic radicals. Since 60 Euro was three times the fare needed to bring his passenger to the Jewish residential district of Antwerp, Fareed was more than happy to ignore his order to take Friedman to the airport.

Instead, Friedman arrived on the doorstep of Reb Berish and Chave Byla Lowenstein's home, a few moments after Malki came home from seminary, accompanied by her friend Tamar.

"Shulem alychen. I am Avrohom Yeshiye Heschel Yekusiel Yehide Yitzchok Myer Yissochor DovBer HaCohen Lowenstein, but Reb Berish, or even if you like Fetter Berish, is fine with me." The watch importer, a native of Williamsburgh who had moved to Antwerp after marriage, was named for four relatives who perished in the war, each of whom was named for a famous Rebbe. "You are very welcome here whenever you want to come. I have to fly to the States tonight and I will be back just in time for Shabbos, but my wife, Chava Byle, and of course Malki and her sisters, will show you around."

Suddenly, the doorbell rang repeatedly. Reb Berish said: "Oy, it is always stuck." He called to his sons: "Yossel, Shmilu, you think one of you can fix the bell? The key to my tool chest is in my desk if you want to try tonight, or just call someone tomorrow morning before you leave for yeshiva."

This time, however, the doorbell was not stuck. It was being pressed repeatedly by an intercontinental perennial nudnik who had made himself a pariah in Antwerp after only a few months of residence there. What's more, he was wearing what appeared to be a dress.

Unfortunately, Reb Berish was not wearing his glasses, as he had rushed downstairs to welcome Tamar. He looked through the peephole of his majestic oak door and saw only a blurry, bedraggled figure.

"Someone please bring me at least ten Euro, or if someone wants to do a mitzvah, please come here. I left everything upstairs."

Reb Berish opened the door, to his great chagrin. Immediately recognizing Friedman, he angrily blurted out:

"Moishele Friedman? In a dress? Today is not Peerim, but I guess you wanted to look in place over at Bnois Yerushalayim. What may I seruv you? My wife makes an excellent Viennese cherem cake, you know..."

"I am fundraising for seminary tuition. I want to become a teacher from girls, they should know more from how to fight the evils of segregation, tzioinis, and everything. Maybe you can give me 100 Euro and lend me another 3,000?"

Reb Berish Lowenstein looked as if he was about to land his entire six feet, two inches of height and two hundred and twenty pounds of weight on the minuscule Friedman's shpitzel-covered head:

"Friedman, seminary? Or cemetery? It doesn't matter much because no one is burying you anywhere but in the Muslim cemetery, and maybe they have a place where you can learn to teach girls.. You belong in Sing Sing, no, really in Creedmoor, you meshigginer, you menivel, you shtickel po......you know what Creedmoor is?"

"Sure, Reb Yid. I was there when I was a kid. Dr. Weinberg, Rabbi Goldman..."

"You were really once in Creedmoor? I am not surprised. Rabbi Goldman, this is the chaplain there? I will call him and see if you were really there, because maybe you can be sent back. Meanwhile, get off my property, or I'll do my kappoores early this year with a fruitcake instead of a chicken!" The door slammed shut.

Little did Reb Berish know that Dr. Weinberg had left Creedmoor ages ago, and that "Rabbi Goldman" was an old alias for a self-appointed Rebbe who was hardly the chaplain there. So, he made a mental note to himself to call Rabbi Goldman at Creedmoor if he bumped into Friedman again upon his return from his business trip.

---to be continued----

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