NEW YORK (Feb. 25)
Three Lubavitcher Hasidim, in a car sagging under the weight of nearly 300,000 pennies, were approached by a police officer with a drawn gun in Brooklyn recently who demanded to know if they had robbed a bank. The pennies, intended for Purim kits, were being transferred from banks in lower Manhattan to Lubavitcher headquarters in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. This represented months of effort by the Lubavitchers to accumulate a half million pennies–two to a kit–for a Purim campaign initiated by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.
According to Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman, a spokesman for the Lubavitch Youth Organization, the Hasidim enlisted the help of the New York City Controller’s office to persuade major banks to trade their pennies for coins and dollars collected from charity boxes in the Lubavitch community. Banks normally allot only $50-$100 worth of pennies a week, according to Rabbi Butman. As for the suspicious cop, “Our representative told him, ‘We are Lubavitcher Hasidim and crime is the furthest thing from our minds.” Rabbi Butman said, At that, the officer put away his gun and said, “I’m sorry for the trouble.” Rabbi Butman reported.
During the day, yesterday, Hasidim visited some 50 hospitals and nursing homes and about 150 schools in the metropolitan area to distribute the pennies, read the Megillah and give “shalach mones.”