Discurso de inauguración del Auditorio Isaac y Luba Becker

por Roberto Sonabend, Presidente de AMUHJ

Dear Friends:

I have the honor of representing Isaac and Luba Becker today. They were not able to come because of a very good reason, they are having their first great grandson in Mexico these days.

If Isaac were here today, he would devote these words to praise the Hebrew University. Please excuse me, but I will take advantage of the fact that he isn’t here, and say a few words about him.

Isaac was the founder of the Mexican Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was the President of the Mexican Friends for 21 years. In 1986 Isaac received an Honorary Doctorate from the HUJ. There are many great deeds of Isaac in favor of the HU, but instead of listing them all, I want to share with you a story that reminds me very much of Isaac.

Many years ago, Rabbi Zalman of Liadi was raising money to ransom Jewish Prisoners. He first went to a city that was famous for its miser. A stingy man with considerable wealth, that was reluctant to share his blessings, no matter how worthy the cause.

Most of the rabbis and beggars alike avoided his home, but those that didn’t, were offered a single rusty copper coin, which even the most desperate pauper refused.

When Rabbi Zalman arrived in town, the elders of the community received him. But when he mentioned that he was going to visit the miser and wanted two rabbis to accompany him, they resisted. The rabbi insisted and the finally they accepted his request.

The next afternoon the three of them stood in front of the miser’s mansion. Before knocking on the door, the rebbe told his companions to not utter a word, no matter what they hear or see. Several moments later they were sitting in a luxurious room, and the owner was returning from his safe with a small velvet money pouch.

The Rusty Penny, by Tuvia Bolton

“Yes,” said the rich man. “A touching story indeed! Widows and orphans in captivity. Ah, the suffering of the Jewish people. When will it end? Here, Rabbi, take my humble donation.”

To the miser’s surprise, the rebbe seemed pleased with the gift. He was actually smiling at him warmly, as he put the coin into his pocket and said, “Thank you, Mr. Solomon. May G’d bless and protect you always.” The rebbe then proceeded to write him a receipt, adding all sorts of blessings in his most beautiful hand-writing.

“Thank you again, my friend.” Said the rebbe as he stood and warmly shook the man’s hand, looking at him deeply in the eyes with admiration. “We must be on our way. We have a lot of collecting to do tonight.”

As the three rabbis walked out of the house, rabbi Zalman turned around and bade his host another warm farewell. “You should have thrown the coin back in his face,” hissed one of the rabbis.” “Don’t turn around and don’t say a word.” Whispered the rebbe as they walked toward the front gate.

Suddenly they heard the door opening behind them and the miser calling: “Rabbis, rabbis. Please come back for a minute. In a few minutes they were sitting again in the warm room, but this time the rich man was pacing back and forth restlessly. He stopped for an instant and asked the rebbe: “Exactly how much money to you need to ransom these prisoners?”

“About five thousand rubbles.” The rebbe replied.

“Well, here is one thousand…” I have decided to give one thousand rubles. The other rabbis were astounded. The Rebbe again shook Mr. Solomon’s hand, warmly thanking him, and again wrote a beautiful receipt with blessings and praises.

“That was a miracle!” whispered one of the rabbis to the rebbe as they left the house and walked toward the gate. Suddenly the door of the house opened behind them. “Rabbis, please, I have changed my mind. Please come in once more. I want to speak with you,” Mr. Salomon called out.

They entered the house for a third time as the miser turned to them and said: “I have decided to give the entire sum needed for the random. Here it is.

“What is the meaning of this?” wondered the rebbe’s astonished companions after they left the rich man’s home the third time that evening. “How did you get that notorious miser to give 5,000 rubles?”

“That man is no miser.” Said Rabbi Zalman. “But how could he desire to give, if he never in his life experienced the joy of giving? Everyone to whom he gave that rusty penny of his, threw it back in his face.”

I want to share with you that since I took over the responsibility of the Mexican Friends, Isaac has insisted that I should understand that it’s about offering donors the opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of giving. An expertise of both, Rabbi Zalman and Isaac Becker.

The Luba & Isaac Becker Auditorium is a well-deserved recognition of Isaac and Luba’s life commitment and work for the HU.