Dear Readers:  

To tell this amazing story fully I must start with an excerpt from my new book, DELIGHT.

"Even for those of us with the energy  for positive  action,...good deeds are often hard to undertake.  We end up wondering if what we do has any meaning or importance.  Sometimes we go out of our way to phone a difficult aunt, return a book, or give a compliment, and receive nothing in return.  It's as if we're throwing sand into the wind.  There's no feedback-no gesture of thanks.  Nothing.  So once again, we can be left feeling empty, even though we have behaved in a positive fashion.  After all, while we should not be doing a good deed in expectation of a thank you, it's still nice to know that our efforts have had some sort of positive effect.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were rewarded every time we took a positive action?  I can almost imagine being hugged and congratulated from on high.  How good it would feel!...." 
Of course, most of us, including myself, don't know how a positive action has affected someone else!  That is part of the struggle we are all in-to do good in a world that often gives no feedback at all.  It is as if we throw tennis balls over a fence that is so high we never know into what court they land or even if they make it into a court at all!   
But never fear.  A lot of our positive 'tennis balls' make it into the right court and sometimes even go on spending love and good deeds for years and years.  Here is a true story that touched my family that is the result of a lady having the courage to play 'tennis' with the universe many, many years ago!   I hope you enjoy my story:
One day, many years ago, during WWII, a young man, Joe came into a bakery in the East End of London.  He asked the young pretty woman at the counter for rye bread and Challah.  He breathed a sign of relief when the bag was handed to him.  The fresh Jewish rye and Challah for Shabbos smelled so heavenly.  He then asked the pretty woman, if she could find out for him if he could have an order of bread, including a Challah, sent to him every Friday on the train.  He was stationed outside of London and there were no Jewish bakeries there.  Edie, the gal at the counter explained to him that the trains took long time.  It would take 5 or 6 hours for the package of bread to arrive.  That was because the trains were not direct and packages had to be moved from one train to another.  However it could be done if... 
Before Edie would make any promises she asked him to come back again and meanwhile she told her mother.  Her mother, Mrs. Levy, told her daughter that she must invite the young man and any of his friends to their home so the discussion could continue.  Did Mrs. Levy's ears perk up when she heard that Joe was young, Jewish and attractive?  Perhaps, as she had several daughters of marriageable age.  However, she genuinely wanted to meet this sincere young man.  
When Joe returned to the bakery he was told that he must come to Edie's home.  That day he was with two other servicemen, so they all went to the Levy home.  Mrs. Levy was a true 'mama' and filled the young men's stomachs with a delicious meal.  During the meal, Joe explained that he and his buddies had made a pledge not to put their arms around any young ladies during their tour of duty.  All had left sweethearts behind.   

Was Edie disappointed? Was Mrs. Levy?  That is lost in the vapors of history.  But what we do know is that Mrs. Levy questioned why it was so important for Joe to get this bread.  He explained that he was strictly kosher.  So other bread might look and smell good, but still have been baked in non-kosher pans.
Mrs. Levy was convinced of Joe's sincerity and pledged to Joe that the family would supply him with packages of bread and other Jewish foods until he returned home.  This is how it would work.  Edie and her sister Simmy would get up around 5:00 AM on Friday morning.  They would go and get the bread as soon as the bakery opened and have it ready for the first train at 6:00 AM.  That was the only way to insure that the bread would arrive on time and not stale for Shabbos. 
Mrs. Levy explained that she too had three sons in the service and could only hope that other people were looking out for them.  So all through the next year, whether it was cold, or rainy and of course, always dark outside, Edie and Simmie went to the bakery, got the bread, wrapped it properly for its six hour trip, and often added in other goodies-a kugel, homemade cookies, or a tin of sardines. 
And as always time passed.  The year was up and the war was coming to an end.  Joe went back to the States, and married his sweetheart.  Mrs. Levy had other concerns and so did her daughters.  
But Mrs. Levy threw out a tennis ball that was continuing across more than half a century.  And this is how it curved:  Joe never forgot the Levy's.  He went to visit them with his wife and eventually his family.  He sent them special treats from the United States, things hard to get in London, for the rest of his life.  He wined and dined the Levy family when they came to the United States. And!!! if that wasn't enough, he had a friend.  I'm sure he had many friends, but Morris, in particular was one of his best friends.  They went to shul together.  They planed cards together.  They went to dinner with their wives together.  They went to see plays at the Westport Country Playhouse together. 
And the ball was still curving.  The Morris and his wife went away to the Bahamas.  This time they were alone.  They were on the beach at the hotel, sitting under a tree.  A little girl, 7, was looking for shade with her mother and went up and began to talk to them.  The little girl was Jessica, our daughter and of course the woman was me. A friendship bloomed.  The week in the Bahamas turned from dull to wonderful as we all went to dinner together every night.  Morris had an infectious sense of humor and Bea was a sweet, loving woman.  We were all eager to stay in touch.  Afterwards, the friendship continued.  The Morris and Bea were always included in our life events and we in theirs.  
And still the tennis ball was curving.  The day came when our daughter was going off to London for a year abroad in college.  And to her despair when she arrived at school, there was no dorm available.  What to do?  Frantic calls across the ocean.  Somehow Morris was told about this crisis. Perhaps we had talked by chance that frantic weekend.  He told us not to worry.  He had an idea.  He called Joe and processed it and then called Edie.  Edie and her remaining family, Mrs. Levy, was no longer alive, now lived outside of London by the sea.  
"Of course, Jessica can come and stay with us.  We would be thrilled.  Send her right away." 
Jessica stayed with them a month.  They took very good care of a young women, feeling slightly homesick and lonely.   Every night when Jessica returned from London University she found tea and a delicious light supper waiting for her, as well as company and a bed warmed with hot water bottles.  When a room came available Jessica, somewhat reluctantly moved out, visiting with them the rest of the year.
Over the years since then, we have all visited.  And the reason this story is so much on my mind right now is that we just visited Edie while on vacation.  Simmie is gone and Edie lives by herself in a retirement village.  We reminisced about Joe and those days long ago.  I promised to take a note to Joe's son for her (Joe has passed away) and I did.  And I also promised to myself that day to share this story with you.  Mrs. Levy sent that tennis ball much farther than she could have imagined and it has been bringing positive deeds into the world every since! 

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein