Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't throw it out

Joe Goldberg phones his stock broker in a panic. “Sell everything immediately,” he shouts into the phone. Joe’s broker is stunned and tries to dissuade Joe from making such a rash move. Seeing he is getting nowhere, the broker asks Joe what has prompted him to suddenly want to sell up.

“Well,” Joe explains, “For the last twenty years I’ve lied to my wife. She doesn’t trust the markets and forbade me from investing. So, whenever I’ve invested money, I’ve told her I was stuffing it into the mattress for safekeeping.”

“Ok,” the broker slowly replies, wondering where Joe was headed, “So, what’s the problem?”

“Well, you see,” Joe continues, “She’s just bought a new mattress- and they’re delivering it tomorrow!”

I heard this story less than a week ago, and smiled. Yesterday, I heard a bizarre real-life version of the same story. A woman in Tel Aviv - known simply as Annat- surprised her mother with a new mattress for her birthday, tossing her old one into the garbage. When mom arrived home, she was horrified. Over decades, she had stuffed $1 million of her savings into her tattered old bedding.

Now, the search is on at dozens of Israeli dumps and landfills, as the family hopes to recover the missing mattress.

Annat and her mom embody the Jewish story. Our zeides and bobbas painstakingly invested emotion and energy to create a heritage that would keep the next generation Jewish. Many of their children felt ashamed of the grey, worn and outdated “bed” their parents clung to. They threw it out and replaced it with a new-fangled, ergonomic version. And only then, when the old “mattress” was gone, did they appreciate what they had given up. Now the search is on- to recapture the treasure that our heritage offers.

If you have an “old mattress”, don’t rush to throw it out. If you don’t have one- start searching. You never know who will find it first.

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