In 1983, I was considering converting to Judaism. My first-ever Saturday morning service, at the Fabrangen congregation in Washington, was daunting: long, foreign in language (mostly Hebrew) and in style (with periodic standing, variable bending and spontaneous murmuring), and interactive (an in-the-round gathering).
Then, halfway into the service, I looked up to see a dark-haired man with a warm but intent face walking toward me. He was beckoning me with a few crooks of his finger. Was I being summoned for some strange ritual? Was he mistakenly thinking I might actually know how to do something?
I was nervous bordering on downright scared, but I rose and followed him into the hallway, where the answer lay. He had asked me to do perhaps the one thing, the only thing, that a non-Jew could do to be helpful in the service: help carry a table back into the sanctuary. I didn't know why at the time, but I soon saw that the Torah scroll would be placed on top of it.
After two decades of friendship, through weddings, births, and bar and bat mitzvahs, I still don't feel I can ever repay John's act of kindness. But whenever I need a reminder that much goodness can come from simple gestures, I think of what he did.
Rick LaRue, Silver Spring
New query: Tell us about a time a dream helped you solve a problem in life. If you have a 100 percent true story taken from your own experience concerning the above query, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or less. We'll pay you $50 if we use your tale.