Sometimes, after reading the morning paper, over my last few
sips of coffee, I take a casual glance at the "Lost and
Found" column to satisfy my curiosity about what people lose
and what other people find.
One day, I lost a small household item, really quite
insignificant, but for some reason, it bothered me. Not that
this was the first thing I had ever lost, but this time, a
friend was staying in my house and a remark made me look at
this little column in a different light. "People are sorry
over every loss, even the smallest one."
Ever since then, the little lines at the end of the
Classified Ads page come to life for me, for behind them are
sad, troubled people with the potential to become happy and
relieved people, regardless of what was lost or found, even
the most trifling article.
And some words from the lady behind this unique part of
For some reason, I was bothered by the problem of all those
losers and finders who avail themselves of tree trunks and
electricity poles. One day I came across a little sign about
a lost watch and the next day, in a different location, a
sign about a found watch. I wanted to connect the two but
when I went back, the first sign was either not there or I
hadn't remembered the pole it was tacked to.
Then Hashem planted in my mind the idea of setting up a lost-
and-found phone service. It began years ago when I advertised
my phone number, together with that of a partner. Before
long, we were in `business.'
When YATED agreed to help us, I chose to capture my target
audience's attention by the logo, "An address for those
lacking an address."
One mother, whose children bring home all sorts of lost
objects, complained to me. She would bring the item to the
police station and they would return it to her after the
owner had not been found. "I had no choice but to tell the
children to stop collecting lost objects and bringing them
I discouraged her from stopping this practice. "Jewish
property has to be in trustworthy hands. Don't tell them to
leave it hefker."
Jews are glad to fulfill mitzvas hashovas aveida even
though it may seem like a trifling matter. This raises our
quality of life. There is no need to describe what happens
when you lose something in a secular area. In 99.99% of
cases, the loss is not reported. People may complain we don't
have pretty gardens and clean streets, but we have grown
accustomed to true quality of life.
A success story tells of the bride who found a gift in the
wedding hall closet left by a previous kalla and
another, of a young mother who found a gift clearly not
intended for her at the Beit Hachlama. Notices were placed in
the paper and the losers were found.
And another tells of a found wallet reported to YATED. The
loser's son saw the ad and told his father, who retrieved his
lost property intact, with great relief.
"Now I know why we moved from Tel Aviv to Bnei Brak," his
Then there was the heavy gold necklace found on Rechov Bar
Ilan, reported immediately to our office. Within fifteen
minutes, a `lost' call was able to match the two up (or so we
assume. The match was not confirmed, even though we always
ask to hear about successes...)
A woman told me she had lost a purse with 600 shekel on a #2
bus to the Kosel. She reported the loss to us and the purse
Sometimes it takes a special frame in the paper to give the
notice its due, like the purse with 1,200 shekel found in a
box of clothing being given away. The frame did the trick and
the purse was retrieved.
Then there was the notice that went unnoticed about bags
swapped en route. I called to check a few weeks later and
hearing there had been no response, I suggested putting in
another notice with more detail, like the musical instrument
included in the bag. This did the trick and the next morning,
the founder had been found.
Then there was the new suit forgotten on a bench near a bus
stop. Luckily, the kiosk owner spotted it and took it in and,
happily, it was returned to its owner.
Then there are the `near finders' who could be trained to
become true finders if they took the trouble. Like the
greengrocer who saw a stroller apparently abandoned on the
sidewalk. Had he taken it in before closing, he would have
been able to return it to the mother who called the next day.
She had sent her children with it to buy produce, but they
had forgotten, and carried the bags home without the
A `near finder' saw a pair of Tefillin by a bus stop and
assumed that the owner would come back to look for it. By
that time, it was no longer there. He called us, but his
Tefillin were never found.
The note of joy in the voices of the people who call to let
me know their lost item was found sometimes warms my heart
for years. Every time someone reports back such an
experience, I take part emotionally, as well. Like the
child's jacket that was given a place of honor in our home
for an entire month. Not only did I call the school in the
area and place an ad in YATED, but I also tacked a sign where
it was found. Then we waited.
One day the boy's mother called. Her sister had seen the ad.
It was an exhilirating moment when she came and took back the
Your editor would like to report such a story. A sofer
stam was dispatched with a large number of bags to drop
off at our busy clothing center at Rechov Panim Meirot and
inadvertantly left a bag with empty parchment cut to size. A
day later he called up hysterically to ask if we had found
It was post Pesach time, with bags flying all over the place,
but we did recall these strange things which we did not
identify. Luckily, one of our volunteers, the wife of a
sofer stam, had already spotted some loose ones and
taken them home for safekeeping. After the call, she came
down to help us round up the remaining scrolls that, not
knowing what they were, we would have soon scrapped.
Subsequently, over the next few days, we kept finding more
parchments here and there.
In the end, he retrieved almost all of them and told us that
they were valued at over $1000!
AND A PLEA to all those fine people who donate things to
Gemachs, only to discover that "I gave away the pants to my
husband's suit" or "the belt to my outfit". The trouble is
that they remember 2-3 weeks down the line...
And while we are at it: Some jewelry was found in a bag
donated to the yard at Panim Meirot 1 upon two separate
occasions, around Pesach time. Call 02-5372303 for
With a hope that all lost items are found. Including lost
souls... lost hopes... Lost Tribes...