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October 6, 2015 / 23 Tishri, 5776
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Mr. Perlman and the Ice Cream Cone

I recall the shock and pain of seeing my ruined ice cream on the street.

I recall my ice cream mishap whenever someone tells me a tale of woe that seems minor on the surface. I use that episode to train my heart to listen. And I’ve used it thousands of times while raising my large family of 12 children.

Today I am a communications writer for a nonprofit organization. Among the strongest of the 50 odd programs run by Kars for Kids is its mentoring program. The mentoring relationship can be almost as exclusive and precious as a marriage. Having a mentor makes a child feel important, feel heard, and the response is to try to be that much better. Kind of like that four year-old me back in Squirrel Hill with my ice cream epiphany.


In that moment, 48 years ago, Mr. Perlman heard my pain and without really trying, he mentored me. Ever since that time, I’ve tried to live up to his belief that I was important enough—enough for him to take the time to do me a kindness. And I’ve tried hard ever since to emulate him: to see every person—no matter his age or station—as important.

The thing is you never really know what people will remember for the long term. For me, it’s the episode of Mr. Perlman and the ice cream cone. Because unlike me, the lesson I learned in that teachable moment, never grows old.

About the Author: Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar silver medal charity.

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