Three Midwood women with hearts of gold recovered a bag filled with $4,000 in Canadian cash and thousands more in checks that one of the ladies found on the side walk on her way to a bingo game — and then found the rabbi who dropped it so they could return it to him.
The best part? The money was all donated to a charity benefiting autistic children.
“That’s the best reward we could ever get,” said Camela Lobosco, who aided in returning the cash to its rightful owner. “I looked at Eileen, she looked at Debora, and we were in tears when we found out that it was for autistic children.”
Eileen Farrell had just parked her car on Avenue J and was waiting at a crossing light at E. 29th Street, all in a hurry to get to her usual Nostrand Avenue bingo hall on Jan. 29, when she felt something brush against her leg. She looked down to find a lonely looking bank bag, black and with a zipper on the side.
“I was standing at the light at the corner and I looked down and saw this bag,” said Farrell. “So, I picked it up without even thinking, put it in my bag, and went to bingo.”
When she got there, Farrell took a quick glance at the bag’s contents and, mistaking the foreign currency for Monopoly play money, zipped it back up and went back to her bingo card.
“At first I thought it was kids’ play money,” Farrell explained. “I’m a little crazy I guess.”
When she finally realized her error — after bingo, of course — Farrell rushed over to the apartment her niece Deborah Couillard share with Lobosco, and the three women put their heads together in an effort to track down the owner.
Looking through the checks, the women kept seeing the name Rabbi Shmuel Udwin written in the memo line, so Lobosco looked up his name in the white pages and, low and behold, he lived right around the corner in Midwood.
When they finally got the Rabbi on the phone, he described the bag perfectly.
“He called, and I asked him what kind of bag it was,” Lobosco described. “He said, ‘MB financial, black, with a zipper on the side. The kind a bag you get from a bank.’ All he had to do was describe that, and when he opened it the guy was in tears. We hadn’t touched anything.” As it turns out, Rabbi Udwin runs a number of schools in Israel called Kol Bonayich — which means, “Include everybody” — along with programs in the states that help children with severe autism to lead more active and full lives.
He’s not sure exactly how he lost the money, but the rabbi sure is glad to have it back.
“I have no idea what happened, all I know is the last time I saw it was at ten o’clock and when I got back to the apartment I couldn’t find it and I was so distraught,” said the rabbi. “I was actually awe struck, I’ve been running around the whole day telling people to cancel their checks and I’d given up on ever finding the cash.”
Though a holy man himself, Udwin didn’t expect whoever found the bag to be as virtuous as Farrell, Couillard and Lobosco turned out to be.
“I truly was absolutely shocked that someone found this and didn’t touch any of it,” he said.Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn