June 17, 2024
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June 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Never in my life have I seen such an outpouring of love and concern as when the awful news quickly spread that Shira Shatzkes, Shira bat Dvorah Leah, a dearly loved, active member of the community, had suddenly suffered a brain aneurysm. “How could it happen?” was on the tongues of many. “Shira is the epitome of kindness” was all that could be heard everywhere that anyone went. Unfortunately, bad things do happen to exceptionally wonderful people.

Today as I write this my hope is that by the time The Link goes to print we will be slightly past this critical portion of her condition.

Just four days after Shira became ill, a 15-year-old girl from Passaic, Rivka Shotkin, on a random Sunday on the ski hill, suffered a devastating accident that severed her spinal cord. We should all be davening for Rivka bat Shoshana as well. As of this writing both of these patients are in critical condition.

My phone has not stopped ringing for the past few days, as throughout the day and evening people are signing up to say a kapittel Tehillim for Shira. There is no question that the heavens are being bombarded day and night with our prayers and concerns. And now a campaign has begun for everyone to do a random act of kindness in the zechut of a refuah. #DoItForShira

I have been thinking about what random acts of kindness really are. When I researched what the term meant I was surprised to see things that I never would have expected and then realized that “Wow, that really is a random act of kindness.” For example, one of the first suggestions that I saw was allowing someone to squeeze into the lane in front of you while driving, which we all know can be really annoying. Another act suggested was paying the toll for the person on line behind you (I guess not for EZ Pass customers). Another was leaving a note on someone’s car telling them how well they parked. Or sending emails to people that you haven’t been in touch with for a long time and just reminding them that you are thinking of them.

Funny, I had different ideas of random acts of kindness, but some on the list of suggestions are really cute and easy to do. They do not include baking challah or chocolate cookies! Acts that I thought of in my mind involved more interpersonal things that I could do for those I know or even those I do not know, like neighbors who I have never spoken with. What would happen if after living here for eight years I were to ring the bell of a neighbor just three doors down and introduce myself? Yes, it is true that in reality one would have expected them to welcome us but that just never happened (we need to stop expecting things of people).

This is a time for us to not expect what should have been done but to take the initiative ourselves. Watching someone have difficulty putting their groceries in their car for whatever reason—having children with them, elderly, whatever—and immediately stepping up to the plate and helping out. Instead of complaining about service in a store, complimenting the cashier, the owner, the salesperson. Showing gratitude the next time you are standing in line at Dunkin Donuts, Sammy’s or wherever and a member of TVAC or the Bergenfield Ambulance Corps comes in, to quietly pay their bill. Taking out a neighbor’s garbage, noticing their newspapers on the sidewalk on a cold and blustery day and bringing them to the door, or perhaps most importantly, telling your mate how beautiful they are (male or female) and how much you love them, which unfortunately in many families would be called random acts of kindness as it seldom happens. Complimenting a child on how they ate their food, even if it was not to your liking, will baffle them and you would be surprised how they may try to eat differently the next time.

There are tons of ideas and suggestions that I have no doubt many of you are working on and doing right now in the midst of this campaign.

By the way, it appears that February 17 is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. My wish, and I am sure that all of you join me, is that by that date both of the ladies I mentioned will be on the path to a refuah and in their zechut we will continue to find more and more ways that we can emulate kindness in the way that is especially known to have be Shira’s way.

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