A True Story of Kindness and Remembrance

Hetty Cassutto Haden

By Hetty Cassutto Haden

This is  a TRUE story. This happened to me today, at my job.
A few days ago, I noticed that a patient named "Sidney Mandell" had a few physical therapy appointments and was due to come in soon. As the name struck a note with me, I wondered to Jim if this was the same "Sid Mandell" that had the wonderful delicatessen near our old house off Liberty Road, where Mom and Dad were such faithful customers 35-40 years ago. Mr. Mandell was almost 91 years old so it could be the same. My husband Jim said to tell him, if it was indeed "THE Sid Mandell, how we spent many Sunday afternoons eating our lunch there because our parents would fight over whom we should eat with, and thanks to him, we had a wonderful courtship and have been married almost 40 years. So far, our paths had not crossed. until today. 

This morning, an elderly gentleman with a walker came to my window, clutching an envelope stuffed with paperwork and asked me for help. I gently asked him his name, and he replied, "Sid Mandell". Well, finally! 

Here was my chance to tell him my little story.  He enjoyed it, but then he asked me where did my then-fiancÚ and I live at that time. When I told him, I added that my dad had the Hebrew Christian Church across the street. A solemn, soft look came across his face. He leaned into the window, and said, "You may not know this, but many years ago I volunteered at Sinai Hospital. I used to come in to your father's room and feed him his breakfast every morning after he had "the stroke." (Dad actually was suffering from a wide assortment of ailments, and he had suffered a heart attack, but that was not important). He then went on and said, "And your mother, she taught French, right? And you have a brother." I smiled and said I had two, and two sisters.

He continued on, leaning back, and said "Rev. Cassutto," as if the name had just returned to his memory. "I would stay at his bedside until you kids would come and visit. I vowed that I had fed your father when he was alive and well, and I would continue to do so when he was sick." By this time, I was in tears. I came from around my office door and embraced him. What love and kindness this man had shown my father in his time of need. I had no idea that my dad had meant so much to him. He even mentioned that Dad had given him a copy of "The Last Jew of Rotterdam." As he took  my  business card, we then talked about what I could do for him, which is what brought him to my office. We wished each other well. Mr. Mandell said he was glad to have met me. I told him, I was more than happy that he came to see me today. It was as if Dad had come down from heaven and touched me, through Mr. Mandell. Here was a fellow Jew who showed me what brotherly love was all about. "Do Unto Others" was the commandment Jesus gave to us, and Mr. Mandell was the shining example of that. What a "mensch!"
Love, Hetty


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