The staging circumstances: a car accident; the friendship, due to honesty and integrity; the culmination of it all, attending meaningful Bar-Mitzvah celebrations.
One morning, in early April, 2018, I visited my doctor’s office, in Beverly Hills, California, for a routine checkup.
The day was sunny, an early Spring Season fresh air day.
I parked my car by a parking meter, 2nd in a line of parking meters situated just around the street’s curve, leaving a spot for one other car to be able to park behind mine.
Upon my return from my doctor’s appointment, heading toward my car, a man approached me and asked: “are you the owner of this car?” pointing at my parked car. At first I was startled. After all, a woman on her own, in the big city, Los Angeles! That could often turn to be weird circumstances. More so, a stranger, a man coming toward you could turn to be an ambiguous formula not to be ignored.
My immediate reaction in protecting myself and my car’s ownership was, “yes, I am the owner of this car. Why?”
“Well,” the stranger replied. “I hit your car,” and pointed to the smashed back of my car.
Standard, I would have shown a slight volatile reaction, but not this time. I looked at the unknown man and wondered, who is this person who did not run away from the scene of the accident, which is the standard in Los Angeles under the same circumstances? This man was actually waiting for me, to admit guilt, not to run away from the accident scene, not to flee a crime scene.
I was slightly irritated because in two days I was leaving for a business trip out of the country. And with much to prepare I had little time to spare to take care of the details to fix my now smashed car.
The man spoke English with a British accent so he also triggered my curiosity.
We began to talk and Michael C., that is the stranger’s name, described to me what happened while I was away from my car. He appeared calm and immediately he calmed me too.
Our conversation started to flow.
I found out that Michael C. is originally from Britain. As a Jewess, I wear a necklace with the Star of David, which Michael noticed. “Are you Jewish?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Well, I am not Jewish but I am married to a Jewish lady and in fact my son will be Bar Mitzvah (Significant 13th birthday in Jewish tradition) in a few weeks,” Michael explained the correlation to finding out I was Jewish.
“Oh’,” I replied. “I will be happy to attend the Bar-Mitzvah celebration,” I volunteered to honor with my attendance the special day.
“That will be nice,” Michael C. politely ‘approved’ my self-invitation proposition.
We exchanged information of how the accident happened and how to go about taking care of the damaged property details and we departed, each his own way.
As I wrote above, I was preparing to go on a trip and had little time to deal with this uncalled for accident’s aggravating details, an accident to which I was not even a witness but my car was. I informed my insurance company of the accident, I arranged to take the car to the body shop to be fixed while I was away and off I departed for my trip.
I must admit, upon my return from my trip, a week later, the Bar Mitzvah of Michael C.’s son was no longer on my mind, rather, the recollection of my trip’s experiences. But it was on Michael’s mind.
It was Michael’s first born child, Luca’s, 13th year Bar Mitzvah celebration and he and his wife Leanne planned huge all day celebrations, as I found out later on.
Upon my return, I had to call Michael to see where the accident’s file stood. At the end of our conversation he said, “by the way, my son’s Bar Mitzvah is this coming Shabbat- Saturday.” I then remembers that I offered to attend. “I will be there,” I said as if I remembered. I was glad I was reminded of the occasion as it was an honor for me to formally receive an invitation to what I initially invited myself.
Saturday came and off I went to the Synagogue where Luca was to read his Bar-Mitzvah biblical prayer potion, which is called in Hebrew the ‘Haftarah.’
I looked around and identified Michael’s wife, Leanne, his children, Luca, standing on the Bima (a platform in a synagogue holding the reading table used when chanting or reading portions of the Torah and the Prophets. Also called almemar) next to the Rabbi,. There was Willow, Michal’s young daughter and the immediate family and friends attending this significant celebration. I was a stranger among all the guests, none I knew, but Michael made sure to introduce me to as many while mentioning the circumstances upon which we met, the car accident.
At the end of the traditional synagogue Bar-Mitzvah ceremony, Michael invited me to their home for an evening party. I thought to myself, if I am already in for this celebration why not all the way.
That evening, at Michael’s and Leann’s home, a blast of a party took place. Food galore, music, games for Luca’s friends to play and gifts kept the kids and adults happily busy for a good few hours. It was a party one does not come by and attend often. I became more impressed by Michael C., my car accident-accidental friend.
That evening I left the party thinking, what a way to make new friends. What a way to meet a decent and honest person.
I came home and sent Michael a thank you note that read:
“Thank you and Leanne for allowing me to be part of Luca’s Bar-Mitzvah celebrations.
Bar Mitzvah age means entering responsibility and accountability life. I think Luca is ready for it. If guided well, he will certainly be able to make a mark on our society. I am not glad we met under unpleasant car accident circumstances but I am glad we did meet.
You leave an impression of well worthy people to know.
If we do not see each other for a while, I hope to be invited to your ‘princess’ Willow’s Bat-Mitzvah, at age 12; it may be not as important a celebration as a Bar-Mitzvah is but important all the same.
Once again, Mazal Tov – congratulations.”
In turn Michael replied:
“Thank you for your lovely message. We are so happy that you came to Luca’s Bar-Mitzvah.
I have told so many people of this story; everyone loves it so much. It is a great lesson for anyone to hear and learn from.
I hope we do keep in touch from this day on. I hope my daughter will do the Bat-Mitzvah birthday as Luca’s Bar-Mitzvah was, so beautiful. It would be amazing to have you there with us.
Thank you again for everything!
My, now late, mother spoke Yiddish. In her Yiddish vocabulary there was the word ‘bashert.’ Bashert is a wonderful Yiddish word which has many intricate layers of meanings. In its basic form it means ‘meant to be,’ but that alone doesn’t really give you the full character of the word that its core means any good or fortuitous thing that takes place.
Michael and I have turned a car accident into ‘bashert’ friendship.