Jewsh schoolboy
Jewsh schoolboy Photo: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Tom Caldwell, who heads an investment firm, took out a personal ad in a Canadian Jewish newspaper to apologize for punching a Jewish boy more than 60 years ago.

“To Howard Rosen, sorry I punched you at Runnymede Public School in the early 1950’s,” it read.

Caldwell, who is 72 now, suffered from a guilty conscience for what he did when he was seven years old and wanted to make amends.

He recounted walking up to Rosen one day at school and punching him in the face. When called into the principal’s office Caldwell told him his hand had slipped.

"I punched him because he was Jewish. I knew that in my heart. I knew that over the years and that's why it really bothered me. I didn't grow up in an environment that was anti-Semitic,” he told CBC news.

“I felt badly. Poor little kid. He’s sitting at school and he gets whacked. It must been of great hurt and upset to him.”

Caldwell said he knows it must have upset Rosen’s parents as well and said they may have even transferred their son to a different school as he does not remember seeing him at school after the incident.

“Maybe it’s an encouragement for people who have been subjected to that [kind of treatment] at whatever age that sometimes people can change.”

Since then, Rosen’s niece saw the ad, which hit social media and quickly went viral.  Rosen and Caldwell have spoken several times on the telephone about their school days but have yet to meet face to face.

“I knew he wanted to get in touch with me,” Rosen told Canadian Jewish News. “I thought it was good to talk to him.”

Today, Rosen hardly remembers the incident. “It’s really hazy,” he said. “It was one day in my life. Nothing out of the ordinary. There was a certain level of persecution in those days.”

Rosen said he’s open to developing the new relationship and looks forward to meeting Caldwell, who happens to live fairly close him.

Now retired, Rosen has worked as a teacher for 37 years with a focus on special education.