Jewish World Review Dec. 24, 2002/ 19 Teves 5763

Of mitzvahs
and phone calls

By Phil Jacobs

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | BALTIMORE Sometimes, it just pays to really listen to your voicemail. And sometimes, it pays just to go grocery shopping. Rachelle Miller found all of this to be true earlier in the month.

First of all, I don't know how it works in your house. But in my home, with two teens commanding the phone, my messages are usually saved on voicemail ... if I'm lucky. There's a response on the phone that's as instantaneous as it gets. If the call is for a parent, push two to save the call as quickly as possible before the caller says 10 words.

And if I ever get a telephone solicitor, it's typically coming from a voice that sounds very much like a computer. Once, however, my daughter insisted we go listen to a time-share presentation promising a guaranteed free grand prize. Best key chain I've ever "won."

Rachelle Miller of Upper Park Heights is a busy woman. She gets tons of phone calls. She has published the "Eruv List" for the past five years. She is publisher of the "Good Book of Greater Washington" and next year will publish the "Good Book of Baltimore." She is in the business of selling advertising and working with the public, so the phone is a major tool.

And why should she be exempt from the rest of us from getting telephone solicitations? But she heard a voice on her phone telling her that she had won the grand prize in the Center Court Giant Grand Opening Sweepstakes. She figured it was a gimmick, maybe a time-share or airline deal of some sort of offer with a catch to it.

But at least she got the voicemail.

She called the number left on the phone, feeling there was nothing to lose. Sure enough, it was real. She had won $5,200 in grocery shopping cards from Giant.

Mrs. Miller, the wife of Bert Miller, had never entered any contest. Her Giant Bonus Card number was randomly picked.

She shops at Giant, using the Bais Yaakov certificates she purchases from the school. So while she was doing a mitzvah for Bais Yaakov by purchasing and using its Giant certificates, it positioned her to do an even greater mitzvah. The Millers have two daughters at Bais Yaakov, Ellie-ahna Meira, 13, in seventh grade, and Esther Malka, 11, in sixth grade.

So what's Mrs. Miller going to do with the $5,200? She's decided to give it away, of course. She is giving it to Ahavas Yisrael Charity Fund, the Baltimore volunteer organization that not only feeds those in need but helps out in so many ways here in Jewish Baltimore.

"We've been supporting the Ahavas Yisrael Charity Fund for years," she said. "Baruch HaShem [Thank G-d], I don't need this money because I am working."

But wait, it can get even better. In a letter to Giant, Mrs. Miller has asked the food store chain if it would consider doubling the $5,200 to $10,400. And if that doesn't work, she said she is looking for partners to contact her in the community to add to the fund.

Giant gives away some $2 million each year to various charitable projects. For those so inclined to become a "partner" of Mrs. Miller's, simply send a check to Ahavas Yisrael Charity Fund, 6400 Cross Country Blvd., Baltimore, Md. 21215. Write "Giant Matching Fund" on the check memo. By the way, there were, according to a Giant spokesman, other prizes as well, such as a TV-VCR and lesser amounts of Giant food gift certificates.

But clearly, Mrs. Miller and now Ahavas Yisrael were the big winners. Mrs. Miller is making the donation in memory of her parents, Rose and Joseph Chrystol.

"It also happened during Chanukah time," added Mrs. Miller. "This is a wonderful time for us. Ellie-ahna was born during Chanukah, and it's the time when my husband and I were engaged. So personally, it's very special."

Said Eli Schlossberg, trustee of Ahavas Yisrael: "Rachelle Miller is representative of the wonderful and generous Baltimore community in their support of the highest attributes of tzedakah in supporting the less fortunate of our community."

The lesson here: if there's a mitzvah involved, you win without even entering a contest.

But second, listen to your voicemail.

JWR contributor Phil Jacobs is Editor of Baltimore Jewish Times. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


© 2002, Baltimore Jewish Times