It’s been 74 years since survivors were liberated from Nazi concentration camps, so the number of men and women who experienced the unimaginable horror are few and far between.
But those people have invaluable stories – some that will die with them.
It was after one such story that two Arab-Israeli brothers – Simon and Salim Matari – decided they would do something kind for one of their customers.
The brothers are plumbers who were called to the home of 95-year-old Rosa Meir in the northern port city of Haifa, Israel to fix a leaky pipe in late September of 2019.
It was an expensive fix – ₪1,000 ILS (or Israeli new shekels). It’s the equivalent of $285 US dollars.
But, according to Newsweek, the Mataris told Hebrew media’s Israel Channel 12 News that they couldn’t take her money.
After arriving at her home, they first tended to their business.
“When we got there, we saw there was a large blast of water and we started fixing it,” Simon told the Hebrew news station.
But then the brothers started talking to their customer, who stunned them with her life story.
“At some stage, while working, my brother Salim started to talk to Rosa about her life. She told us she’s 95, a Holocaust survivor, and that she has a daughter.”
It’s not simply a story of generosity, but one that took place in the midst of troubled relations between Arabs and Jewish people, especially in Israel. While Arab-Israelis make up roughly 20% of the population of Israel, they have long been treated as second-class citizens.
Part of what’s so important about the story is that everyone involved knows what it’s like to be treated as less than human. Despite many Arab-Israeli’s having been the victims of violence and discrimination by a Jewish population that feels they shouldn’t be there, these brothers serve everyone. And this Holocaust survivor took the time to share her story with them.
The brothers were so moved by what she had been through that they couldn’t conceive of taking her money for their work. While everyone needs to make a living, there are some instances in which it’s clearly better to show generosity towards others.
“Her life story touched my heart. At that moment, I decided I won’t take a cent from her,” Simon Matari said.
When the plumbers completed their work, Ms. Meir was shocked to see the bill. It simply said:
“Holocaust survivor, may you have health until 120, from Matari Simon and Matari Salim. 0 shekels.”
“May you live till 120” is a Jewish blessing, wishing the receiver a long and healthy life, with no diminished faculties. It has two biblical sources – one in Genesis 6:3: “And the LORD said: ‘My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for that he also is flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.'” The other is Deuteronomy 34:7, which gives the age of Moses at death as a healthy 120. Moses is also an important figure in the Qur’an.
Ms. Meir told journalists that she was brought to tears by the gesture and there is a photo of all three of them smiling in each other’s company.
“The brothers really surprised me,” she said. “It was so moving and uplifting, and I thanked them a lot.”
Simon Matari said they did it “from their hearts.”
Clearly, humanity comes first for these brothers, who also offered to return to Meir’s home for free any time she needed help with her plumbing.
Scroll down to see the original post about the story on the Facebook page “Good Deeds Day.”
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