Borough Park, NY - An Upper West Side man chose to celebrate a milestone birthday Wednesday night by handing out $80 gifts and blessings to clients arriving at a Borough Park soup kitchen to pick up their weekly food packages.
Zalman, who asked VIN News not to reveal his last name, said that the idea to do something special on his birthday came to him several months ago as he was reading a book by noted lecturer Rabbi Paysach Krohn that discussed a person’s divine ability to bless others on their birthday.
Looking for an appropriate venue to bless others when he turned 80 on the seventh day of the Jewish month of Adar, Zalman reached out to Rabbi Krohn who suggested he spend the evening at the Masbia soup kitchen in Borough Park.
After reaching out to the soup kitchen’s executive director, Alex Rapaport, to arrange the celebration, Zalman came to Masbia’s New Utrecht Avenue location on Wednesday night with his family. Sitting at a table littered with party hats and surrounded by colorful balloons and a festive banner bearing the words “Happy Birthday,” Zalman estimated that he gave blessings and cash gifts of $80 to each of approximately 90 people during the course of the evening.
“I hope it will make things easier for them for Shabbat and Purim,” said Zalman, who grew up in Mount Vernon. “One of the nicest things was that so many people made a point of giving me a blessing too. I wasn’t expecting that.”
A father of four who is expecting his tenth grandchild next month, Zalman continues to work in Manhattan as a stockbroker. Retirement isn’t even a consideration for the upbeat octogenarian.
“My wife has a 94 year old father who still goes to work every day,” quipped Zalman. “If I would suggest retiring my wife would think I am a bum.”
Enthusiastic about his soup kitchen birthday party, Zalman said that he was grateful for the opportunity to help others.
“It made everyone happy and a little more joyous,” said Zalman. “I hope and I pray that Hashem will be responsive to my blessings.”
Zalman with his family at Masbia soup Kitchen