Upon opening up the news on the net this week, I was pleasantly surprised when I caught sight of a headline announcing the success of a new Facebook group called “Help for New Mums”. I blinked twice and rubbed my eyes to verify that I was not in the middle of a dream. How could it be that there was a report of something positive happening? Usually, our eyes are hit by negative headlines that convey the impression that ninety percent of Israelis are involved in some type of crime.
New mums started receiving tasty food baskets whose effect is to put a smile on their faces. Dietary issues are considered and each mother receives the basket that suits her. These mums may be tired due to a lack of sleep or bewildering feelings due to the challenges of motherhood. These “Mishloach Manot” help them perk up and realize that there are real people out there who care for them and who are ready to invest their precious time for them.
We have witnessed the way a Facebook post succeeded in motivating and mobilizing the Israeli public to attend funerals of lone soldiers whose stories touched their lives and their hearts. Thousands flocked to pay their respects to these soldiers. The lone soldiers who had given up a comfortable life for the sake of a bigger idea – the idea of the necessity to defend the civilian population from continual attack and a life of siren dodging.
Unfortunately, we have witnessed negative uses of this platform including the process of “shaming” where a person’s reputation is guillotined in the square to the cheering of the crowds. Facebook and social media are a gladiator’s ring where only the strongest can survive. We should think logically before making haste to press the “like” button. We have to learn to take time before automatically believing in what others want to instill in us. It is all too easy to succumb to the idea that anyone or any idea put up for hanging should necessarily undergo it.
Anyway, back to our mums, who took a model from kibbutzim and other communities, decided that this custom should be adapted for the big, bustling city of Tel Aviv. Lo and behold, the idea took off and meanwhile various neighborhood groups have formed. The offshoots are help in other areas with which new mothers sometimes struggle to fit into their busy schedules. The baskets have accompanying notes, accompanying visits and their bearers offer attuned ears that empathize with the challenges faced by mums no matter what their social affiliations may be.
With the onset and onslaught of the summer vacation, the initiative can be furthered and applied to other population groups who could become involved in worthy purposes for the benefit of people who need a helping hand, a kind word and a warm smile to help them cope with their life situation. A small gesture can mean so much and affect people. It is our choice whether we use the power of this platform to destroy people and ideas or use its potential for improvement and empowerment.