Compassion

I work for a Jewish Federation. Needless to say, the last several months have been harrowing. My building has not yet been threatened, but our people feel fear. For many, it reopens the horror of the Shoah – the Holocaust. For all of us, it shows us that hate and anti-Semitism has blossomed into overt acts.

I remember the first time I saw a camp tattoo on an old woman’s wrinkled arm. Nothing speaks louder than that silent moment of horror.

Nonetheless, there are still acts of kindness.

This morning we found a brown paper bag at the door and assumed the worst. There was writing on it.

“My wife and I found this at a flea market. It was in a box marked ‘Jew stuff.’ We didn’t think that was right. We felt it should be given to a place where it would be respected.”

Inside was a tefillin.

tefillin
The black boxes and wraps are tefillin.

These are sacred prayer items.

From the Chabad website: Tefillin consists of two small leather boxes attached to leather straps. The two boxes each contain four sections of the Torah inscribed on parchment.

My boss called the number on the package to thank the gentleman. He drove almost two hours to bring this to our building. He said he was offended to see a box labeled “Jew stuff” and like most Americans, he was angry at the hate speech and what it has spawned.

And he took action.

Elie Wiesel said :

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

 

Today my world felt a little less oppressive. I hope you have a moment of grace like this too.

 

RAOK

So… tragic week in U.S. again. Still.

This isn’t going to bring anyone back, and it surely won’t change any laws-gun or LGBT protection – but it usually brings a spark of light into a pretty dismal world. Today, practice a Random Act of Kindness.

Smile at the checkout clerk, pet a dog, pickup some trash, give a couple bucks to the sad-looking teen or oldster who’s sitting by themselves. Offer them a smile too. When you’re heart is breaking, offer a piece to the person next to you.

Last week I was missing my dad. A lot. And out of no where, someone gifted me with a hand-made Hamsa (shaman’s hand, healing hand).Kitchen 2

Several weeks ago, she had heard me say that I collect them, thought of me, and brought it to a meeting. I was really overwhelmed, not just by her kindness, but by the fact that I know my dad was hearing me miss him, and this was his way of hearing me.

So last Friday, a friend posted that it would have been her brother’s birthday, the first birthday since he had died this winter. She had some plans for her mom, because it was going to be a really tough day for her. Her mom, Mary, is my neighbor, and this loss…well, burying a child…there are no words.

Anyway, for some reason I remembered this bracelet I had purchased last fall that had angel wings, hearts and green stones. It was intended as a gift, but never made it out of the house at Christmas. I stuck it in my pocket when we walked Miss Penny, and thought I’d give it to Mary if I saw her out walking. Well, I didn’t see her and had some errands to run, so we we drove over to a small town for some produce. And there was Mary buying apples.

Coincidence? I don’t thinks so. After a hug, I tucked it in her hand. I think we both knew it was from Joe, her son. But we didn’t need to say that. So, my day got 100% brighter, and maybe her grief lifted 1%, but that’s ok.

Here’s my challenge: go RAOK like mad this week. It won’t make up for what’s happened to the Orlando families, but it will make you feel at least 1% better.