New York – While it is often denounced as a colossal waste of time, once again it was Facebook to the rescue as a Cedarhurst resident turned to social media to perform the mitzvah of hashavas aveida.
Jeff Leb, the Orthodox Union’s New York State director of political affairs and president of the Peninsula Public Library in Lawrence, was riding the 4 train to his office in August when he noticed a camera on the floor. Picking up the camera, Leb noted that the only identifying information was the pictures on the camera’s memory card.
A call to the MTA’s lost and found department proved fruitless, leaving Leb to take matters into his own hands.
“I recognized the pictures right away as from the Superbowl last year,” Leb told VIN News.
Leb had actually been at Superbowl XLVIII with his ten year old son, who had, ironically, lost his mp3 at MetLife Stadium several months earlier.
“I filed a report with the lost and found but didn’t think there was any chance we would get it back, but sure enough, around Chanukah time the Jets called me up and asked if we had lost an iPod,” said Leb. “When we got the iPod back I made sure to tell my son that from a probability standpoint, odds were that the person who found it probably wasn’t even Jewish. It was just one of those lessons you tell your kid that there are good people and bad people everywhere.”
Hoping that the story of the camera that he found on the subway would have the same happy ending as his son’s missing iPod saga, Leb posted the pictures of a couple posing at MetLife Stadium on Superbowl Sunday, recruiting the assistance of his Facebook friends with the following status message:
“DO YOU KNOW THESE PEOPLE ??? Let’s See How Well Facebook Works… I found a camera with a bunch of photos on it. If Anyone knows who either of these people are, please contact me so I can return it to them. Thanks.”
Leb’s Facebook status was shared by 30 people, including Allison Josephs of Jew in the City. Within minutes of Josephs’ posting, one of her Facebook friends recognized the woman in the picture as an executive at her office. Josephs gave Leb the woman’s contact information so that he could return the camera to its rightful owner. All told, Leb had successfully located the camera’s owner in less than three hours.
“I called her office, spoke to her secretary and told her ‘this is the weirdest call you are going to get today but I think I have your boss’ camera,’” said Leb. “We tried to meet up once but it didn’t work, so I just mailed to her. It was a nice story but I would like to think that anyone else would have done the same thing if they had found that camera.”
Leb hopes that the experience will be a life lesson for his four children, ages five through eleven.
“Kids get inundated in school with so many mixed messages and sometimes the concept of middos is lost on them,” explained Leb. “This was a chance to show them a practical example of good middos.”
Josephs first reported the story on Jew in the City last week, after finally connecting with the woman in the picture who she describes as “a busy executive.”
According to Josephs, the camera’s owner said that while had she lost her camera at the Superbowl she had not been on the subway on the day of the game and that she had no way of explaining how it ended up on an IRT train six months later. For Josephs, the simple act of returning the camera was a golden opportunity to showcase Orthodox Jews in a positive light.
“Chilul Hashem spreads quickly with no one trying but these simple acts of kindness don’t spread on their own unless we publicize them,” said Josephs. “Now more than ever it is important to speak out against the negative and to remind people about the positives.”