By Sabina Mollot
Peter Cooper Village resident Jack Goldfarb, who in the past several years, has done much in the way of activism to honor those who perished in the Holocaust, more recently found himself tasked with a much more light hearted and local mission.
It started, Goldfarb shared with Town & Village this week, with a routine trip on the M23 from his home to Madison Square Park.
When he got off the bus, he was approached by a young woman who handed him three twenty dollar bills. She then told him, “This is from the bank.” Naturally, Goldfarb had questions about what this was all about — and if he was being scammed somehow — but before he could ask anything of his mysterious benefactor, she had already vanished into the crowd. However, he recalled that the woman was black, about 25 years old and had “a mischievous smile.”
Although she hadn’t given him any hint on how to spend it, Goldfarb said he felt that since the cash was given to him, he should give it to someone too, specifically someone who looked like they could use it.
But first he took it to the bank, where a teller confirmed it was in fact real money. After that the sixty dollars just sat on his dresser for a few weeks.
But then one evening, he headed outside of his building where he spotted a young woman who was a neighbor of his. He then told her “I have something for you and there’s no strings attached,” before handing her a twenty and explaining how he got it. In response, “she hugged me and kissed me,” said Goldfarb.
The next day he went out again, this time to Stuyvesant Cove Park. After a number of cyclists and skaters whizzed by, Goldfarb spotted a shopping cart full of bulging plastic bags. “Behind it was an elderly gentleman who was toothless.” Goldfarb then handed him the second twenty. “He said ‘Bless you’ and I blessed him and I left,” recalled Goldfarb.
The next day, Goldfarb took another ride on the M23. After getting off onto the street, he spotted an artist, a woman, who he noticed wasn’t selling the art she was working on. He then handed her the last of his cash — or so he thought. Goldfarb had given it to her in an envelope he soon realized he had written a telephone number on that he needed. So he returned and the woman gave him back the envelope “and I went home.” Upon going home he realized he hadn’t even put the money in the envelope in the first place. “The $20 was still in my shirt. I didn’t give it to her,” said Goldfarb.
That night, he found it tough to get sleep as he worried the woman must have thought he had cheated or tricked her. So, the next day he made one more trip to the park “and lo and behold she was there, opposite Madison Square Park,” said Goldfarb. When he explained what had happened, she told him she didn’t think he’d done it on purpose. “She said, ‘No, I thought you forgot it.’” In the end, after the last of the money had been given away, Goldfarb said he was left to think “a lot about life and people’s needs and trying to help people.
“It was a good feeling like I was given an assignment from spirits or whatever,” said Goldfarb. “I did explain to the first girl, ‘Look, it’s not mine. It was given to me.’ Everybody always says they need money but what they need even more than that is for someone to show them kindness. Kindness can come in the form of money or an unexpected gift.”