In a bizarre case over a grandmother’s Bar Mitzvah gift for her grandson, a 20-year-old man successfully sued his own mother for the $US5,000 promised to him when he became a man in the Jewish faith at age 13.
On Tuesday, a judge ruled that Jordan Zeidman was entitled to a $US5,000 Bar Mitzvah gift from his grandmother — known to the family as “Baba” — that his mother was apparently holding for his college fund. Zeidman’s parents divorced in 1998 and agreed to both contribute to their son’s college fund, according to Nassau County judge Scott Fairgrieve’s ruling.
Among the evidence Fairgrieve cited was Zeidman’s testimony that at his Bar Mitzvah in October 2007, his grandmother said, “I have $US5,000 for you. Just like I gave to your brother, and sister. And I’m going to give it to your mum to hold for you.”
Additionally, in 2006, Zeidman’s mother had made a deposit into the college fund and included a handwritten note reading, “I owe Jordan $US190.00 + $US5,000 from Baba.”
The mother testified that she doesn’t remember writing this note and denied ever receiving the money from Zeidman’s grandmother.
Fairgrieve notes in his decision that Zeidman was estranged from his mother by the time of his Bar Mitzvah, and neither his mother or grandmother had been invited. Rather, the two “crashed” the party, according to Fairgrieve.
The defendant’s attorney, Jeffrey Schecter, told Business Insider that he plans to appeal the ruling. “There was no evidence of a gift, and that’s the strange thing about it,” Schecter said.
Here’s a longer excerpt from Judge Fairgrieve’s ruling explaining his decision:
The evidence clearly establishes that the plaintiff’s grandmother came to the plaintiff’s Bar Mitzvah with the intention of giving a $US5,000 gift to the plaintiff. The grandmother gave direct testimony attesting to the fact that she went to the plaintiff’s Bar Mitzvah, uninvited, with the intent to give him a gift with “all of her heart.” The plaintiff and the grandmother both stated that the grandmother had given $US5,000 gifts to the plaintiff’s older siblings for the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs in the past. More importantly, the document dated July 25, 2006, allegedly containing the defendant’s handwriting on a bank confirmation states, “I owe Jordan $US190.00 + $US5,000 from Baba,” further supports that a gift was made. The plaintiff, the defendant, and the grandmother all confirmed that the family refers to her as “Baba.”
This evidence, coupled with the fact that the plaintiff and the grandmother share a family relationship, convinces the court that the grandmother came to the Bar Mitzvah with the intention of giving the plaintiff a $US5,000 gift.
The evidence also demonstrates an irrevocable transfer of ownership, in that the defendant received delivery of $US5,000 as agent for the plaintiff in a fiduciary capacity.
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