Sam Hoffman, author of the forthcoming Old Jews Telling Jokes: 5,000 Years of Funny Bits and Not-So-Kosher Laughs (August, 2010), shares an anecdote about his NETWORK conference experience.
…[S]omething interesting happened to me when I went upstairs to get some air and check my emails after speaking at the NETWORK conference. There is no cell service in the basement so I was at the top of the stairs texting my wife that our much-rehearsed speech was now finished when a concerned and somewhat desperate woman approached me. She said, “can you help us, we’re only nine? We need a tenth for the minyan.” I was flustered at first, of course, because I felt a responsibility to be downstairs listening to my fellow authors. Would the sight of my empty seat somehow let them down? I stammered “I’m here with the book fair. I need to go back downstairs.” She looked beyond disappointed and went off in search of another tenth. I descended the stairs, and by the time I got to the bottom, I thought to myself, “this is crazy. There are like three hundred Jews in this room and upstairs they can’t find a tenth for a minyan?” I asked the girls outside the door if they thought I could be excused for 15 minutes and ran back upstairs. I found the woman searching the halls and announced “I can do it! They said it was ok!” Her whole demeanor changed, like her faith in humanity had somehow been restored. I grabbed a yarmulke and joined the service. Eight grateful Jews and a Rabbi nodded their thanks to me and, quite frankly, I was embarrassed by their gratitude. Most of them just wanted to say Kaddish.
Visit Hoffman’s website at http://oldjewstellingjokes.com/