As many of us were coming to terms with the fact that we did not win the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot, The Jerusalem Post shared a beautiful story yesterday about one of the three Powerball winners – a nurse in California who is the mother of seven kids whose boss bought the ticket for her. Her boss, Shlomo Rechnitz, is an Orthodox Jewish businessman and philanthropist. He owns several nursing homes in California and reportedly purchased 18,000 Powerball tickets – one for each employee. Along with the ticket, Rechnitz attached a note that read: “We will provide the ticket. You provide the dream.” Explaining Mr. Rechnitz’s decision to do this, his spokesperson said: “In the new year, ‘everyone wants a bit of hope’ and he (Mr. Rechnitz) wanted to give everyone that bit of hope.”

This is not the first time Rechnitz has done incredible things for people. Last year he bought 400 U.S. soldiers dinner as they waited for their plane at an airport in Ireland. He has helped many Jewish organizations and donated $1 million to Orthodox communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Every Saturday night, Rechnitz opens his home to the needy, giving money to those in crisis. He has promised $10,000 to the family of any California police officer killed in the line of duty and he sent $20,000 to a woman who wanted to induce labor to allow her dying husband to meet their baby girl before he passed away. While some have been quick to point out that Mr. Rechnitz’s nursing homes have been sued and investigated for serious deficiencies, his desire to help others and make a real difference in this world has rightfully earned him a great deal of respect.

Late yesterday, it broke that the nurse who received one of Mr. Rechnitz’s Powerball tickets as a gift was not the winner. It appears that her son played a prank on her, leading her to believe that she won. She and her coworkers did celebrate when she thought she had won and the media picked up on it – but the story quickly fell apart and the media began to focus on the “feel good story” that had become a “hoax.” Sure, it is unfortunate that the nurse did not win – but to dismiss this story as a hoax places the emphasis upon the millions of dollars that the nurse would have won. Trust me, I am not saying money is insignificant! However, this story is much bigger than the $1.5 billion jackpot. This story highlights the incredible generosity of Mr. Rechnitz who wanted his employees to feel hopeful as the new year began. Yes, he is tremendously successful – but his generosity reminds us all that it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Mr. Rechnitz is playing the game really well. Hopefully we can all learn a little something from him. Maybe next week, instead of spending money on Powerball tickets, we can send some money to someone or to an organization that really needs it. Maybe we can buy a soldier a cup of coffee or find a way to express our appreciation to a police officer. We didn’t win the Powerball jackpot, but we still have the ability to change the world – one person at a time.

By the way, Mr. Rechnitz has promised the nurse and her family an all-expense paid vacation to anywhere she wants to go.

Shabbat Shalom!

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