My father was kind and he loved kindness.
In the camps, dad experienced extreme cruelty—
Beaten, starved and tortured.
“So why did he become or remain a kind man?”
“If I experienced beatings, starvation, torture, and had most of my family murdered, would I dole out kindness?
I doubt it.
I’d blame G-d, hate G-d and take my revenge on all of his creations.
No mouthwash could kill the bitter taste of my hatred.
No kindness would find quarter in my heart.
I’d laugh and tell the world, “Kindness equals weakness. Cruelty equals strength.”
But my father was kind and he loved kindness.
Many of his acts of kindness thrive in the memories of his patients, friends and fellow survivors.
Even today, 30 years after his passing, my father’s kindness reaps dividends.
And I am one of its beneficiaries.
So I try to follow in his footsteps, as I still hear or read stories about his kind acts.
I found your story (The Inconvenience of Being A Very Young Displaced Person) very interesting.
So interesting that I read it to my husband.
After your dad diagnosed my heart condition at age 12, I found a worm in my school-lunch soup.
I was extremely distressed.
My mom picked me up and rushed me to see your dad.
He said to me, “In the concentration camp, we searched for worms as they were protein.”
Your dad had never mentioned the words “concentration camp” to me before or after this visit.
But I knew that he was trying to comfort me.
How the worm got into my school lunch soup, I will never know.
Since I didn’t eat the worm and with your Dad’s reassurance, I felt comforted.
Your dad was very special.
Yes, my dad was special.
And yes, he was kind and he loved kindness.
And no, he never told me the worm-eating story.
Another one of his acts of kindness.
I could never see my fastidious father eating worms because his body craved protein.
I could never see him counseling his fellow concentration-camp prisoners, “Eat the worms. They’re your only source of protein.”
Did his Melamed (teacher) at his cheder (elementary school), he attended in Poland, teach him what Rabbi Simon the Just taught: The world rests upon three things: Torah, service to G-d and bestowing kindness.”
Did my dad’s medical training include a course on kindness?
Did the University of Genoa Medical School teach him the power of prescribing even small doses of kindness?
My dad, by his example, did teach me the value of kindness and how contagious it was.
And recently, another one of his patients related how my father’s simple act of kindness changed his life.
When I was 10 years old, we stayed in a bungalow colony in Woodbourne. My grandpa had chest pains, so my mother called your dad and he rushed over. My job was to wait at the entrance of the bungalow colony and escort him to our bungalow.
I saw your father exit his Caddie carrying his polished brown leather medical bag.
I ran up to him, introduced myself and asked, “Can I carry your medical bag?”
As we rushed off to help my grandfather, he handed me his bag,
“Boychick, of course you can. One day you’ll become a doctor and carry your own bag.”
“Well today, I ‘m an emergency-room physician at Mount Sinai Hospital and I credit your father’s act of kindness for getting me started. Your dad was very special.
Yes, they say, “Kindness is contagious and kindness begets kindness.”
And my dad proved it on a daily basis.
Watching him, I learned how to live my life.
Always remembering, my father was kind and he loved kindness.