New York, Nu York: It Began with a Mitzvah

It's very hot and humid in New York City, folks. This Tuesday it was a combination of temperatures in the 90s, humidity and bright sunshine. The Big Apple was baking. But we could find some cooler temps in the city's public parks, under the shade of the trees. So when I decided to eat my spartan lunch (peanut butter on whole wheat bread and an apple) I biked into Morningside Park, a slim Manhattan park that is very steep on the western edge.
I parked my bicycle near a pretty pond, and sat at a picnic table shaded by a big tree. I watched people of various ages walk by the lake, and enjoyed my lunch. But when I got up and walked to the path that runs by the pond, I noticed that there was money on the ground. I picked it up and saw that it was a crumpled wad of bills-- a twenty dollar bill and two singles. I couldn't just leave that there.
I biked over to all the day camp groups in the park and asked if any campers or counselors had dropped some money; I didn't specify how much I'd found. No one had although a few people suggested I just pocket the cash. Then I asked some other people in the park, and no one had lost anything. I even asked some of the park workers who lounged in the field house.
About to give up, I saw a man with two young girls. He looked anguished. I asked him if he'd lost some money and he said yes. I asked him how much and he answered, "About twenty dollars." When I presented him with the money I had found, he looked a bit shocked and embarrassed. He thanked me profusely.
I felt good about reuniting money and owner; he didn't look like a wealthy individual, in any event. I couldn't just pocket that money without trying to do the right thing. I biked out of the park and ventured into Harlem.
Did you know that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Manhattan's Harlem was a heavily Jewish neighborhood? Indeed it was, predating the Harlem Renaissance and the huge influx of African-Americans to this northern central part of Manhattan. In fact, my family had some relatives here but I know next to nothing about them, sadly. Anyway, I know where there are former synagogues in Harlem, and biked over to one of the finest specimens, the former home of Temple Israel, designed by Arnold Brunner. I had visited it a few years ago, admired it, but was told I could not take photographs of the beautiful stained glass windows in the main sanctuary, with their Stars of David. But today I saw an open gate and door at this building, which has housed a Baptist church for many decades (Temple Israel still exists, in a different building further downtown). And I went inside the building.
A man there, either a worker or congregant, seemed surprised to see me there but when I asked if I could photograph the Judaica inside, he said yes and waited patiently as I snapped camera and phone photographs. I was so pleased to do so, furthering my work researching the lost synagogues of New York City and other parts of the US.
Now, you may say that this was just a happy coincidence, that I got to do something I had wanted to do before, but had not the chance. Perhaps so, but perhaps because I had earlier turned a good deed for some stranger, performed a mitzvah, then another stranger performed a mitzvah and good deed for me. I would like to think that occurred.