Jake loved climbing the mulberry tree in his yard to eat and pick the berries. One day, he realized his older neighbor might not be able to climb trees like he could and, therefore, could not enjoy the delicious mulberries like he did. He decided to pick some for her. When he brought the overflowing bowl of mulberries to his neighbor, she had so many she was able to make not one but two mulberry pies. Can you guess what happened next?
And so begins the PJ Library book One Good Deed by Terri Fields. The tale illustrates how one good deed, no matter how big or how small, from just one person can spark something incredible throughout a community. This value of g’melut chasadim (acts of kindness towards others) is exactly what Laura Shulman Brochstein, JF&CS North Shore Outreach Manager, and Rabbi Jillian Cameron, InterfaithFamily/Boston, wanted families to experience in June at the North Shore Day of Kindness, hosted by JF&CS and InterfaithFamily/Boston with support fromCombined Jewish Philanthropies.
While JF&CS helps people of all faiths, InterfaithFamily/Boston supports interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities.
“I knew of InterfaithFamily/Boston and had met Rabbi Jillian before. I knew she was a strong educator and spiritual leader,” shared Laura. “I thought a partnership between JF&CS and InterfaithFamily/Boston seemed like an obvious match given all the volunteer opportunities available through our agency.”
So together, Rabbi Jillian and Laura created an educational afternoon to introduce North Shore families to both of their organizations and teach about g’melut chasadim.
“Kids learn when parents model actions and values for them,” said Rabbi Jillian. “So we wanted the North Shore Day of Kindness to offer activities for families to participate in together. I was excited about giving people an afternoon to give back to the community in a Jewish setting and in a way that could include the whole family,” Rabbi Jillian said.
Families gathered together in June at the House of Seven Gables in Salem. After reading One Good Deed, attendees designed and colored cards for new parents, decorated picture frames that will be gifted to older adults, and painted ceramic flower pots for Holocaust survivors.
“The children worked very hard on the activities. One little girl reminded me of myself. She was serious about the projects and focused on her work. When she finished, I could see on her face that she was conflicted – she wanted to take her crafts home even though she knew they had been created to be given to others,” shared Rabbi Jillian. “It was a wonderful opportunity for this young girl’s mother to talk with her about what an amazing gift the projects would be for the recipients, especially because she had put so much effort into making them thoughtfully.”
All in attendance were reminded throughout the afternoon that one good deed – whether picking mulberries for a neighbor or creating a card for a new mom – can make a big difference. We know what joy these families’ projects will bring to those in the JF&CS community and look forward to collaborating with InterfaithFamily/Boston in the future.
Originally posted on the JF&CS blog.