From Cantor Lee: As Jews we not only have the Jewish New Year as a time to reflect and evaluate our lives but the secular new year as well. As Rabbi David and I were discussing this I was quite surprised that a memory came up from two years ago as it didn’t seem to have anything to do with our conversation. But you know how those things go. It turns out it did. It was actually a facebook message I received from a woman who lived in our neighborhood in New Jersey over 30 years ago. She was a friend of our son. I didn’t remember her and still don’t! But I will always remember her message!
She had reached out to thank me for including her and all the neighborhood children in our Jewish holidays, for teaching them to be open to other religions. She went on to say I had a huge impact on her and she wants to do the same for her young children and expose them to many different religions and cultures.
I tried to think back. What did I really do? I remembered how I would have all the children help us decorate our sukkah each year, make latkes with us at Chanukah, have them taste matzah for Passover. Invite them to the celebrations. Is that all it took? It wasn’t anything really extraordinary in my mind. But yet, these small acts had a huge effect on a child’s life and it is being extended now to her own children.
So perhaps that is the message my Higher Self wanted me to understand when bringing this memory. It is the little things we do, that every act has the potential to affect others in ways we can’t even fathom!
From Rabbi David Our unexpected seemingly minute experiences can have a profound impression on us. Recently as I was visiting an assisted living facility here in Boca Raton I was struck by the sadness of many of the elderly.
With various levels of disability they sit in their wheelchairs in the hallway for endless hours with hardly any life in their eyes. With no one to talk to, many close their eyes and fall into intermittent dosing perhaps trying to escape their sad reality. Frail and helpless they yearn for a friendly look or just for a simple hello and a smile.
Most rarely receive any visitors maybe because their children live far away or are just busy. People who come through the door don׳t seem to pay much attention to any of it.
But another day I had the honor to witness the profound impact of a small act of kindness. A woman came in with some chocolate kisses and gave each resident one accompanied by a smile and a simple.“How are you?”
Seeing how the residents’ faces lit up when they saw her sent shivers down my back. I quickly realized that this was not a one time act but a daily “routine.”
I was also there during Chanukah and saw the woman giving out latkes. She offered me a latke too. I tried to refuse as they were meant for the residents but she insisted. The latke was still warm and tasty. Obviously she had just made them. As she was walking and talking to the residents, each came to life and smiled.
And I? I learned first hand what a small act of kindness really means.
The rabbis teach that the world rests upon three things, Torah, Avodah (worship,) and Gimilut Chasadim, acts of loving kindness. In this New Year of 2020 may we all bring more acts of loving kindness into our world.
Happy New Year!
Rabbi David and Cantor Lee
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