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Kindness Is Contagious. Are You In?


“It is not your responsibility to finish the work but neither are you free to desist from it either.”

Pirke Avot: Sayings of our Fathers 2:16

After the tragic December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook that resulted in the killing of 20 first-graders and six school administrators, people from all over the world wanted to do their part to help the families of the victims heal. We also wanted to relinquish our own pain. We wasted no time in inundating the small affluent town in Connecticut with millions of teddy bears and toys, not to mention donating millions of dollars to United Way funds.

Then we opened our hearts to our own communities when NBC News’ Ann Curry—the modern-day Maimonides—tweeted the idea about “#26 acts of kindness.” Again, we didn’t hesitate to tweet back “I’m in!”  We stuck post-it notes everywhere with the message to “Pay it forward!” and encouraged each other in social media to join the feel-good bandwagon by sharing our ideas on the  26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page, which already has more than 95,000 “likes.”

Indeed, the theme of the holiday season was “random acts of kindness,” which included everything big and small, like buy a cup of coffee for a stranger in line at Starbucks, tape a dollar bill on a vending machine, donate frequent flyer miles to Make-a-Wish, raise money for Connecticut’s first responders, give away gift cards to people buying meds at Walgreens pharmacy, feed the meter on a car parked in the street, pay off someone’s layaway account at Walmart, cover the toll for a dozen cars in line on the highway, and non-monetary deeds like deliver a meal to a homeless shelter, spend time with elderly relatives, volunteer at our kid’s school, pick up trash in a local park, make blankets for children at Ronald McDonald House, and bring freshly baked cookies to neighborhood firefighters.

In the Jewish tradition, we are all commanded to not only “do” mitzvahs but “be” a mitzvah everyday of our lives by helping those in need in whatever way we can. Philanthropy is the foundation of our religion, and we are obligated by the Torah to do our part to help repair the world that God created. Obviously, our society is in need of healing.

Here’s a few creative ways for your family to fulfill the mitzvah of tikkun olam, or mending the world. One idea is to host a nationwide Shabbat Supper the weekend of January 18 to celebrate the legacy Martin Luther King. For more info look here: www.werepair.org, www.generationon.org, and www.pointsoflight.org.

Are you in?