Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 4, 2002
Paying back big time
Monty Hall 'made a deal' to repay a gift . . . forever
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
When the producer of our Christopher Closeup television program told me we'd be interviewing Monty Hall, I suspect he saw the doubt in my eyes. Much as he was a superlative host of television Let's Make A Deal series, where, I wondered, was the Christopher message about each life making a difference for the good?
Well, I was in for a surprise. Monty Hall reflects exactly the message of Father James Keller, founder of The Christophers. But to understand why, we need to go back in history to the story of his grandfather David Rosenwasser who, leaving his wife and children behind, immigrated from Ukraine to Canada with little English and even less money.
Looking around the train station in Winnipeg and hoping to see some familiar face in the new and strange land, he heard a loud voice asking in Yiddish, "Are there any Jews here?" When David affirmed that, yes, he was a Jew, the man embraced him and said, "Come with me."
They went to the man's home, where the new immigrant found a hot meal and a place to sleep. The next day, this same stranger took him to a boarding house and offered useful information about his new neighbourhood. He also gave David Rosenwasser five dollars and help starting a pushcart business.
From there, Monty Hall's grandfather was on his way. Through the help of this friendly stranger and his own efforts, he made a respectable living and was able, in time, to bring his family to Winnipeg.
He became the president of the local Orthodox synagogue and worked to aid other newcomers. He never forgot that when he was most in need, one person made him welcome.
That message was passed to his children and his grandchildren - including Monty Hall, who still remembers the challenges of just getting by. As a child, he often had porridge for supper. He was the delivery boy for his father's struggling butcher shop and would load his bike with deliveries, often in sub-zero weather.
And then he had his own experience with a much-needed helping hand. After starting in the University of Manitoba, Monty had to leave due to a lack of funds for tuition.
A local businessman who knew Monty to be hardworking and industrious gave him a gift and a challenge: "I will pay for your tuition. But you must keep your grades high, and when you're able, you will pay this loan. Oh, and one more thing. When you get older, you must do the same for someone else."
Monty readily agreed.
In fact, he's been better than his word. Remembering that one act of kindness made his foreign-born grandfather feel welcome in a strange land and knowing that except for the generosity of another man he himself might never have completed college, Monty Hall has dedicated his life to helping others.
At last count, Monty Hall has raised over a billion dollars for charity. Each year, even now at 78 years of age, Monty Hall travels to over 100 benefits a year, helping to raise money for good causes and needy people.
Hall has used his celebrity from his television career to fulfill the admonition of his benefactor: "You must do the same for someone else."
Fame is a much sought-after goal by those people who dream it will give life meaning. Monty Hall certainly wanted to be famous, but he also knew that success carries with it obligations.
With every blessing comes a reminder: to make the world a better place than we found it, to use what we've earned to help those who are less fortunate.
Whatever we have, others have less. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, Good Neighbour, Good Citizen, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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