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Hilltown Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 17, 2009
By Andrew Schotz
KNOX A piece of Jay H. Baumstein’s childhood has resurfaced 45 years later.
It was a certificate he received in honor of his bar mitzvah, which is a religious rite Jewish boys go through at age 13.
Baumstein, a Knox resident, had his bar mitzvah and received his certificate on July 11, 1964, at Ohel Yakov Congregation in Baltimore, where he grew up.
He figures he stuck the certificate in a book the congregation gave him. He didn’t think about it for decades.
On Monday, Baumstein got his certificate back courtesy of Dr. Jay C. Goldstein, a podiatrist living in Portland, Ore.
Through the Internet, Goldstein purchased A Treasure Hunt in Judaism, a book about Jewish customs and practices, from a Baltimore bookstore. He said by e-mail on Wednesday that it was for his daughter-in-law.
“It has been a favorite of mine since I was in Sunday school many decades ago,” he wrote. “I did not want to part with my copy so I searched for a copy for her.”
When he found the certificate inside, Goldstein said, he immediately tried to find Baumstein. He didn't get any response from the Baltimore temple, but eventually found Baumstein's office and left him a message.
Baumstein said the book became part of his father's collection. When his father died in 1999, the family donated thousands of his books to a sale.
Baumstein, 58, said he’s not religious, so the certificate doesn’t hold any special significance, but he appreciates Goldstein's effort. He said he relishes a good connection and is enjoying this one.
“I think it’s hysterical,” he said. “I think there’s a humor to finding this antique.”
Baumstein said he attended Buffalo State University as an undergraduate, then taught school in Middleburgh. After living for some time in Lake Placid, then Virginia, Baumstein and his family moved to Albany County.
He is a construction manager for the University at Albany and also designs and builds custom homes.
Asked how he felt finding Baumstein and returning his childhood certificate, Goldstein wrote, “My Mitzvah for the day,” using the Jewish term for a good deed.
Baumstein likes that the certificate reached his home during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
“There’s a certain kind of kismet about this,” he said.