Bochurim’s Fruitless Efforts to Help a Stranger Ends with a Bar Mitzvah

Bochurim Mendel Shpielman and Yossi Cohen were on their way back from visiting Jewish inmates in a California prison when they noticed a car stranded on the side of the road. Their efforts to help out eventually led them to celebrate the bar mitzvah of a man who didn’t even know he was Jewish.

By reporter

Mendel Shpielman and Yossi Cohen were driving along a hot sunny California highway, on the way back from visiting Jewish inmates in prison. They were about halfway through the 4 hour trip to their motel, when they noticed a car pulled over on the side of the road. 

They didn’t imagine that their perseverance to help a stranger would eventually lead them to celebrate the bar mitzvah of a man who didn’t even know he was Jewish.

“We had already stopped to help another driver with a flat tire,” Mendel told “But we decided to stop again and see if we could help these people also.”

The young couple in the car told the bochurim that they had noticed smoke coming out of the car and had quickly pulled over. They popped the hood and saw that there was no oil left. So Mendel and Yossi offered to drive into town, which was 10 minutes away, to get some oil, which they did. 

“We poured the oil into the car, but it poured right out the bottom, ” Mendel said. “Meanwhile, they were trying to call a tow truck to help them, but they couldn’t find anyone willing to come out to that area.

“As they were roasting in the 110 degree California heat, we offered to go back to town and find a tow strap so that we could flat tow them to a gas station where they could at least plan their next step with air conditioning and cold drinks.”

The bochurim drove to town again and went to every gas station and hardware store that they could find. No luck. They were all either closed, or did not have the piece they were looking for. They even asked passersby on the street. It seemed that no one in the town had a tow strap.

In the last gas station that they went to, as they were about to head out the door, an older man came out from the back and greeted them in a heavily accented English.

The bochurim called back, “Hello, are you Jewish?”
“Is your mother Jewish?”
“Yes, my mother’s Jewish; we’re from Iran.”
“Did you ever put on Tefillin?”
“What’s that?”
“We’ll show you!”

The bochurim raced to their car and got the tefillin, explaining to him that Jews put on Tefillin and he was very happy to do the same.

As they were celebrating the impromptu Bar Mitzvah, Mendel asked the Iranian gas station owner if he knew the reason why we put on Tefillin. He answered, “Sure, on the head near the brain and on the arm near the heart!”
Mendel was surprised, “Have you ever done this before?”
“No,” he shook his head, “But I’m an engineer!”

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