Faith in Humanity

It’s a curious thing, Jews and charity. When the need arises we seem to always rise to the occasion – sometimes in ways most unexpected.

This past Saturday night, Jan. 06 there was a most tragic event that occurred in the Mill Hill neighbourhood, just a stone’s through from my office. A gentleman, Vijay Patel, who tends to one of the local stores, was preventing some underage teenagers from making an illegal purchase. This prompted an attack that ultimately cost him his life.

It wasn’t till early Sunday morning, as the whole area had been cordoned off, that most people became aware of what happened. Needless to say I, like so many others, was stunned to learn of this unprovoked attack and senseless taking of life.

Mill Hill is a wonderful suburb of London and the Broadway is the hub where much activity goes on. There are coffee shops aplenty which generates a wonderful camaraderie in the neighbourhood. Mr. Patel’s store is situated on the Broadway and like myself, many will frequent the shop for purchases ranging from general hardware to fruits and vegetables. We will all have known him, even if not personally, then certainly from his smile and warm greeting. One felt compelled to do something.

Yesterday, Tuesday morning, after news broke that Mr Patel has succumbed to his injuries, I launched a crowdfunding initiative through the “justgiving” website. I put it out on social media and emailed it out to members of my community. I set a target of £1000 which I thought would be a nice gesture for the wife and two children Mr Patel leaves behind. I knew I was setting the bar low, and thought that a few thousand pounds would be a generous response. I am writing this exactly twenty-four hours since launching the fundraiser. So far, more than fifteen thousand pounds has come in!

It makes me pause to think about a few things: First, how generous we are as a community, always rising to the challenge at hand. Second, how we don’t just concern ourselves with our own but reach out to others in need as well. Third, and perhaps most poignant, for every senseless act of violence that might cause us to sometimes question the madness of our world; for all the chaos that is out there that makes us wonder, “what’s it all about?” there are moments like these – the coming together of so many random people – most who never knew Mr Patel – that restores our faith in humanity.

His passing is a tragic loss, but he will not have died in vain.