A few years ago, Davidi forgot his tefillin (phylacteries…whatever that word means) on a bus on a school trip. The school made some small effort to retrieve this expensive gift we had arranged to have hand written specifically for Davidi and gave up quickly. It was easier for them to doubt Davidi’s memory. Maybe he left it somewhere else, we heard again and again.
We refused to give up. We called Masada – where Davidi had gone that morning with the school and they said it wasn’t there. We called the bus company and nagged them. The school told us to give up and buy new ones. End of story. We refused. It was not logical for them to have disappeared – someone had them or knew what happened to them. You cannot gain a mitzvah (credit for doing the right thing) with a stolen item. To put on tefillin every day is a mitzvah – but if the tefillin is stolen – there is no mitzvah and no reason to put them on. You’ve gained nothing (and worse, you’ve stolen something). No religious Jew would steal tefillin and a non-religious Jew didn’t need them.
After 10 days, we returned to the school and said simply…no, we refuse to give up. Call the bus company again. This time, the principal called the manager of the bus company and this time, they followed through and called the driver – who had been driving around with the tefillin for 10 days and once he got an accurate description of the tefillin container, identified it right away.
There was a lesson there – for Davidi and for the school. Never give up, we taught him – and amazingly enough, his young teacher told us that from our actions, he too had learned this action. Seek justice, fight for it, argue for it, and when you know you are right, don’t give up.
We moved Davidi to another school the next year – more because that incident was symptomatic of the school itself rather than any single incident. Now, two years later, while I don’t regret our decision (and even wish I’d done it sooner), I’m faced with a new challenge that I’ll have to deal with next week (on top of tons of other things I already have to deal with).
I bought Davidi an iPod touch months ago – in the midst of many celebrations – it was his birthday and I felt I wanted/he needed, something bigger. So, I bought him the iPod and Lauren’s wonderful mother brought it to Israel. Davidi was thrilled and careful…until it fell and broke a few weeks ago. His uncle gave him some money towards fixing it.
We found one place that wanted double what his uncle had given him; but just found another place last week that only wanted about $30 more to fix it. Davidi had in his wallet, the money his uncle gave him, plus his bus card, plus his health insurance card, and a bit more. Someone went into his locker and stole his wallet.
The school is saying there is nothing that can be done – end of story. I hate when people tell me end of story. It just makes me want to prove them wrong. Stay tuned for this one….