Twenty years ago an American girl living in Michigan, wore a t-shirt to a friend’s bat mitzvah, a Jewish coming of age ceremony, printed with a design created by said friend. Some years ago the still in good condition, but no longer used, garment was donated to charity, where it recently surfaced at a second hand market in Kenya.
As the t-shirt had a name attached to it, David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein, writers for NPR, together with Adam Soclof at JTA, decided to try and locate the original owner, and perhaps not all that surprisingly, after pursuing a few avenues online, succeeded.
We saw Adam’s post and followed up with Rachel this morning (her last name is now Aaronson, by the way). She told us she had a bunch of bat mitzvah T-shirts that spent years sitting in the basement of her parents’ house, in the Detroit area. This one had her name in it because she took it to summer camp. About five years ago, she said, her mother gave the shirts away to a charity called Purple Heart.
Granted, they had a full name, and the date of an event to work with, but the story illustrates the relative ease with which anyone can be traced from only a couple of clues, if someone is sufficiently determined to seek them out.